NHL Picks Value Found in Avalanche-Penguins Puckline

David Lawrence

Thursday, December 18, 2014 12:26 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 12:26 PM GMT

After missing the last three games with the mumps, it looks like Sidney Crosby could return to action on Thursday night when the Penguins host Colorado Avalanche. There’s no NHL betting line as of yet because his status is still officially questionable at press time.

The Colorado Avalanche Can Win Because…
When looking at the NHL odds, keep in mind that the Pens aren’t 100%. To start, there’s the Crosby issue. Right now, all we know is that he may be back. It’s not guaranteed that he’ll return and if he’s out, that changes things. Beyond that, the Pens will definitely be without Beau Bennett, who contracted the mumps.

The Avs have had some injury issues of their own but could be getting some bodies back during this road trip. Brad Stuart is expected to be back in the lineup while John Mitchell, Patrick Bordeleau, Jesse Winchester and Semyon Varlamov are all expected to be back at some point on this road trip. If they can get some more bodies back – especially Varlamov – this team could be in good shape to steal a win. There’s a ton of juice to lay here with Pittsburgh and they’re merely 4-4 in their last eight games. That’s not particularly encouraging.

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins Can Win Because…
The Avs are really struggling…again. The Avs have obviously been a huge disappointment this season with just 10 wins in 30 games. After all, this was a team that finished second-most points in the Western Conference last season (112) but right now, they are dead last in the Central Division with 27 points and are on pace for just 73. More recently, the Avs have been miserable as they’ve dropped five of their last six games. The bigger concern might be that three of those games were at home where most teams are usually more competitive. The Avs have just four wins in 14 road games this season.

The biggest issue for the Avs is goaltending as they’ve given up at least three goals in a game in six straight. The Penguins have one of the league’s best offenses and could get Crosby back in the lineup to help boost them. They might not even need him to get to three as the Avs are so bad.

Don’t expect Colorado to outscore Pittsburgh in this one. The Pens clearly have the edge all over the ice in this one, so take them with your NHL picks.

 

Outlook
The Avs have been bad all season long and now are in a tough spot on the road in Pittsburgh facing a Pens team that could get Crosby be back. If he’s in fact back in the lineup, the Pens puck line is the play that makes sense here. The Avs are giving up goals in bunches and will have a tough time with one of the league’s best offenses. The puck line means we avoid all of the juice and this should be a one-sided affair through and through.

NHL Pick:  Penguins -1.5 

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