Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:40 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. The great hockey fans in Pittsburgh have seen it all. They endured years of hardship before the Penguins started putting together some of the greatest hockey teams in history around the time of the Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr era. The fans have seen some of the greatest players ever to play this game pass through and they are still enjoying that luxury today. The fans have seen Stanley Cup victories, intense, seven-game playoff series and truly some of the best hockey ever played. They have also participated in more than one Cup victory parades. What they haven’t seen however, is the Vegas Golden Knights and that makes this game, with the return of Marc Andre Fleury an added bonus, the hottest regular season ticket in years. A playoff-like atmosphere is an absolute here and when the chips are down and intensity levels are high, we’ll still take Pittsburgh to beat any team in the NHL.
Give full props to the Golden Knights for what they’ve accomplished but there are just too many things working against them here with the biggest being that their stock is simply way too high. Maybe one other team in the league would be priced this low in Pittsburgh and Vegas should not be in that same range. The Knights have been going too good for too long and there is going to be a slight correction at some point. The balanced scoring they were getting for 50 games is starting to tail off slightly too. Will Carrier is out with an upper-body injury and that means Brendan Leipsic is back in. Will Gerard Gallant keep Alex Tuch with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Carpenter after the trio combined for two goals and three assists vs. Washington? Or does he move Oscar Lindberg back and have Tuch play with Leipsic and Cody Eakin on what has been an offensively ineffective third line of late? Vegas will also play its fifth straight on the road here in eight days, not to mention its third time zone. That said, this is not a fade on the Knights, as Marc Andre Fleury will be jacked up and his teammates will want to win this game for him to be sure. Vegas isn’t likely to be lacking any energy here but neither will the Pens.
It’s not a big game for Pittsburgh, per se, in terms of the standings but it’s a huge game for the fans, the atmosphere will be electric and therefore the Penguins will feed off of all that and play it like it’s a playoff game. Aside from that, is there a better team in the league more equipped to exploit Fleury’s weaknesses in goal than the snipers on Pittsburgh that were shooting on him in practice every day for years? Again, give us the Pens in a big game like this at a short price any day of the week against any team and we’ll gladly roll the dice. The Knights are great but they have not paid their dues yet. That likely changes right here.
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PITTSBURGH -½ +140 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.80)