NHL Picks: Penguins vs. Red Wings Will Be A Defensive Battle

Bruce Webster

Thursday, December 31, 2015 1:03 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 1:03 PM UTC

The Penguins have a home game vs. Toronto on Wednesday night and will be looking to bounce back from a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Jets, while the Red Wings come in off a 4-2 road loss to those Jets and have now lost seven of their last 10 games.

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NHL Pick: Under 5

Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


Can the Penguins Turn Their Season Around?
The NHL odds are out for this game and if the playoffs started today, the Pittsburgh Penguins would be watching them on TV as they are currently in 11th place in the East, five points behind 8th seeded Ottawa. The Pens already fired their head coach this year and hired Mike Sullivan to take over. So far he is just 2-4 and it seems that this team has deeper troubles than just the coaching. Hard to believe that a team with Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby are struggling on offense as much as they are. The offense clearly need fixing as they currently rank 28th in scoring and 28th in power play conversions. Some have said that Crosby is a coach killer. Could he be on the trading block right now? Stay tuned.

The Pens have scored just 14 total goals in their last eight games and in their game prior to the Toronto game they were shutout by a Winnipeg team that is 25th in goals allowed. Just two players on the team have put up double digit goals and Crosby has just seven for the year so far. Just no punch to this offense at all right now and if they did have some offense they would be just fine as on defense they check in at 9th in the league in goals allowed, giving up just 2.4 gpg, while allowing teams to convert on just 16.7% of their chances, which is 6th. Getting the start in this game should be rookie Matthew Murray, who has been called up while Fleury is on the mend from a concussion. Murray is 2-1 with a 1.68 GAA in his three starts this year.


Red Wings Stymied by Winnipeg
A few days ago the Winnipeg Jets shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 and on Tuesday night they held Detroit to just one goal in the 4-1 win. Detroit has now scored just one goal in each of their last two game and for the year they are 20th in scoring, putting up just 2.5 gpg, while converting on 18.2% of their power play chances, which is 18th. Scoring the lone goal for the Red Wings in the loss to the Jets was Pavel Datsyuk, which was his 5th of the year. The loss was Detroit’s 6thin their last eight games and they currently stand in 4th place in the Atlantic Division.    

Absorbing the loss for the Red Wings was Jimmy Howard, who allowed all four goals to the Jets before being pulled in favor of Petr Mrazek, who stopped all 11 shots he faced. Howard is now 7-9 with a 2.66 GAA on the year. He won’t get the start here as that distinction should go to Mrazek, who is 11-10 with a 2.23 GAA overall, including 6-6 with a 2.15 GAA at home, while vs the Penguins he has gone 1-1 with a 3.00 GAA. The Red Wings have been rather average on defense, ranking 16th in goals allowed, giving up 2.6 gpg, while ranking 12th in the penalty kill (81%).


Pittsburgh is:

The Under is 15-5-3 in their last 23 vs. the Eastern Conference

The Under is 5-0 in their last five games playing on 0 days rest

Detroit is:

The Under is 8-3-3 in their last 14 vs. the Eastern Conference


Betting Analysis
Both teams are struggling to score right now as the Wings have put up just one goal in each of their last two games, while Pittsburgh has had issues scoring all year and they have put up just 14 total goals in their last eight games. The Pens have allowed just six total goals in their last four games, while Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek has a solid 2.23 GAA on the year. This one should be a defensive battle, so take 'Under' with your NHL picks.

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