Penguins To Send The Jackets A Clear Message

Pittsburgh Penguins players celebrating

Dana Lane

Friday, February 3, 2017 1:28 PM GMT

Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 1:28 PM GMT

Two of the league's top teams square off in a possible Stanley Cup Final preview.  Championship handicapper Dana Lane explains why the old is still better than the new. 

2016-2017 NHL Selection Record: 54-44   .551   +15.00 units

@DanaLaneSports   @DanaLaneNHL

 

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Pittsburgh Penguins  

The Pittsburgh Penguins have sat on top of my list as the best team in hockey for most of the season but will face a stiff test from the Columbus Blue Jackets who have become the leagues biggest surprises. I have the Jackets ranked third in my recent power ranking.

I usually try to tread lightly when teams get key players back because I've always been under the impression that it takes a couple games for a new addition to gel with his linemates.  In the case of Matt Cullen's return, I'll view it differently as it's projected that he will take the place of Conor Sheary, who is injured, on the 1st line along with Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist.  It's better than any alternative.  

Now you may wonder how a fourth line center is going to fair on the top line when cohesion is a major component to offensive success, I have seen many times where players have elevated their game because they are in a position of more responsibility. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has reinforced that confidence by reminding us how defensively responsible Cullen is and how effective he is in the faceoff circle.

From a team perspective, the Penguins should be plenty motivated as they trail the Jackets by three points in the Metropolitan Division while trying to avenge a 7-1 loss to Columbus in late December.

The Jackets claimed a 6-4 victory over the New York Rangers, Tuesday, but made plenty of defensive mistakes as the Rangers had plenty of chances to climb back into the game late. Aside from the score, the Rangers outplayed the Jackets, outshooting them 37-26.  With the Penguins averaging almost 4 goals per game, defensive mistakes could lead to a lot more goals than the four they allowed to New York. No team applies more pressure on opposing goaltenders than the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

The normally reliable Jackets power play is just 2 for their last 15.

Matt Murray will likely get the start in goal for the Penguins.  Murray is 10-1-1 at PPG Paints Arena this season.

Always make sure to shop for the best NHL odds at all SBR approved sportsbooks.

 Free NHL Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins -136 Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3037621, "sportsbooksIds":[19,43,1096,93,1275], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]

comment here