Winnipeg Jets @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Nothing seems to slow down the Pittsburgh Penguins these days, which is why they continue to be the favorites to win the Eastern Conference according to the NHL odds. Even though they’ve been beset by injuries, they’ve still won 15 of their last 18 games. At home, they’ve been even sharper – if you can believe that – as they’ve won 11 straight at the Igloo.
On Sunday, they’ll host a Jets team that’s doing a very difficult back-to-back turnaround. After losing 4-1 in Boston on Saturday night, they now have to travel to Pittsburgh and play an early afternoon contest. The Jets need to be at their best to beat Pittsburgh as they’ve lost 12 straight in the series. These conditions are definitely not optimal for them.
The Jets have lost five of their last six road games while giving up 21 goals in the process. That’s not a good sign considering the Penguins are the highest-scoring team in the East. That being the case, I’ll take the Pens on the puck line. The juice is too high to take them straight up but the fact that five of the last six Jets losses have come by two or more is encouraging for laying the extra goal with my NHL picks.
Pick: Penguins -1.5 +147 at Pinnacle
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Edmonton Oilers
The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to trend upwards while the Edmonton Oilers continue to slump. That’s the basic equation of this selection.
Tampa Bay has now won five straight on the road and has done just fine while superstar Steve Stampkos recovers from a broken leg. Remember when they were supposed to sink in the standings without their best offensive weapon? Well, they’ve won seven of nine while averaging 3.22 goals per game.
As for the Oilers, they continue to be a trainwreck as they’ve lost four straight and 10 of their last 14. On the year, the Oil Can is just 3-19 when facing a team with a winning record while the Lightning are 16-5 against teams that are sub-.500. I’ll add the Lightning to my NHL picks.
Pick: Lightning -135 at Bookmaker
San Jose Sharks @ Chicago Blackhawks
The Sharks have a little bit of an issue in net these days as goaltender Antti Niemi has gotten gradually worse as the season has progressed. He had a .924 save percentage in October and it has dropped each month. It was .911 in November, .903 in December and it’s .895 in January. He’s been pulled twice in his last three games.
It’s tough to trust the Sharks when Niemi’s not on his game – especially in Chicago. The Blackhawks have won five straight home meetings between the teams. That’s why I’ll lay the juice with them.
Pick: Blackhawks -140 at 5Dimes