Penguins Will Show Lightning Who’s Boss in the East

Dana Lane

Saturday, November 25, 2017 7:32 PM UTC

Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 7:32 PM UTC

The Tampa Bay Lightning may be getting the Pittsburgh at the right time when the puck drops tonight at the PPG Paints Arena at 7:00 ET / 4:00 PT

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins

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Free NHL Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins -103Best Line Offered: at Matchbook

Well, this looks easy.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have dropped three straight games and now face one of the league’s elite teams with their backup goaltender. Way too simplistic of a way to bet tonight’s game but that hasn’t stopped the public from jumping on the Lightning. The Penguins opened as a -113 favorite according to the SBR odds page but that number quickly found itself in decline as over 69% of the wagers had Tampa Bay on the ticket. Everyone is on the Lightning tonight. How quickly we’ve forgotten about the two time champs, playing in a big time spot.

Admittingly, this is not the best stretch of hockey for the Pens but I don’t think they are as far gone people think. Bettors and fans are so quick to dismiss the champion because by nature we mostly are a society that roots for the underdogs. When the betting public smells a new champion in the works its clouds their vision, never taking into account that the Penguins are going to be at their best in this one because the champion never wants to relinquish its belt.

Take the last two periods against the Bruins, Friday, a game the Penguins dropped 4-3. After falling behind 2-0, the Penguins had the better of the scoring chances and even though it resulted in a loss I thought Pittsburgh had some things to build on heading into tonight’s clash. There is a big difference with a team coming off a 4-3 loss when leading 2-0 then when they trailed to make it a game. If I’m in the Bruins lockeroom they’re happy with the win but in the back of their minds they know they didn’t properly put the Penguins away.

Sidney Crosby scored just his second goal in 16 games but hot streaks have to start somewhere. I’m very comfortable having my money protected by the line of Crosby, Conor Sheary, and Patric Hornqvist. Crosby has six points in his last five games and Hornqvist has four in five. The Penguins second line has been even better with Jake Guentzel, Riley Sheahan, and Phil Kessel. The trio has combined for 13 points in their last 5 games. Kessel has chipped in 12 points in his last 10 games. Pittsburgh actually puts more shots on net this season than they did when they led the league in that category in 2016-17.

This is likely to be a battle of back-up netminders tonight when Peter Budaj (1-1-1, .873, 3.33) gets the start for Tampa against Tristan Jarry (0-0-2, .903, 2.84) for the Penguins.

The problem comes from the Penguins lack of depth but for one night Mike Sullivan can rely on his stars to carry the load.

From a trend perspective, the Lightning have dropped five of their last seven meetings against Pittsburgh.

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