Series Dominance Make Penguins Our Free NHL Pick vs. Panthers

Dana Lane

Monday, February 15, 2016 1:43 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 1:43 PM UTC

The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-19-7 63 pts) try to stay hot as they travel to Florida (32-18-6 70 pts) to face the Panthers who have lost two straight. Let's review the NHL odds now!

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NHL Pick: Penguins +103
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Penguins vs. Panthers
The Panthers better start playing with some urgency or they'll find themselves out of first place in the Atlantic Division.  I said it after the break, the Panthers have to find a way to conjure up some more offense other than relying on Jaromir Jagr who is almost 44 years old. With a loss, the Panthers will have dropped five of their last six games including a lethargic home loss to an average Predator team, 5-0. Gerard Gallant must have them better prepared than giving up four goals in three straight games. It tough to feel confident backing the Panthers until Incan see above average hockey again, especially against Pittsburgh who wants to prove that their offensive performance lately is a fluke, one goal in their last two games.

The Penguins are 2-0 against the Panthers this season winning both in overtime and they have had back to back road wins for the first time since November.  Pittsburgh is 4-0-1 in the last five vs. Florida and 19-7 in their last 26 meetings.  Pittsburgh have won seven of nine overall and are extremely close to getting back into my power ratings top ten. 

Injuries are starting to creep up on the Panthers. Aleksander Barkov is on the Injured reserve with defensemen Willie Mitchell and Erik Gudbranson. Barkov is eligible to come off of IR and play tonight but I don't anticipate that happening. With him out you take a lot of size and strength from your center position. The Mitchell and Gudbranson injuries leave the Panthers without quality depth. The Panthers now have seven players who are out or battling injuries. 

The Penguins Egveni Malkin has been out with a lower body issue that isn't being considered serious. He may return which would give the Pens yet another offensive weapon. 

David Warsofsky (Concussion) is eligible to return tonight but my guess is he will not. 

If you want to ride the hot goaltender in this series it would be the Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury who owns a 10-1-1 record against the Panthers with a 1.71 goals against average in 12 career starts. 

Panthers goaltender, Roberto Luongo, is 1-2-4 against the Pens with a 2.92 goals against. Backup goaltender, Al Montoya, has had a tremendous season, but has been less than stellar against Pittsburgh supporting a 5.04 goals against average and an 0-3 record. 

After the Panthers were shutout, I wanted to find out if the Penguins were a team that you could get offensively healthy against or if the Pens stayed focused knowing that they will be offensively superior. The Penguins are 7-1 after their opponent has scored two goals or less in their previous game. 

The Panthers are also a bad Monday team (21-46 last 67). Before we laugh at this trend there is something to playing before a packed weekend crowd and then having to general your own passion before a less than full house. We're backing Pittsburgh with our NHL picks in this one, where they are favorites in the NHL odds boards.

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