Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:00 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. OT included. You can count on three things; death, taxes and the Blue Jackets losing to the Penguins when it matters most. With the Capitals locking up the Metropolitan Division, the Jackets and Pens are tied at 96 points apiece, but only Pittsburgh has clinched a playoff spot. The home team has dominated the games between these two teams going 10-2, which might entice some in the market to look at the Blue Jackets, but do not be fooled. When Pittsburgh visited Columbus with a depleted lineup back in February, the market pounced on the Jackets and got burned, as they dropped a 5-2 decision. The Blue Jackets are winless against the Penguins this season, thus continuing the trend from last year's first-round playoff defeat. With both the Flyers and Devils nipping at their heels, there is a chance the Blue Jackets could fall into a Wild Card spot, but if that means they can avoid the Pens in round one, that might be a fine consolation. The Jackets stock is up after racking up eight wins in their last 10 games, but they got all they could handle after splitting back-to-back overtime contests with Detroit and Vancouver respectively. Those non-playoff teams are not exactly the cream of the crop.
With a win, the Pens would wrap up second place in the Metro and secure home-ice advantage in the first round, which is a big deal, as they have the second-best home record in the NHL. There isn't much this group hasn't seen after cashing in Stanley Cup wins the past two seasons, but they are still approaching this game tonight as if it were already the playoffs. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin knows home ice is huge, "You look at our track record throughout this year and years past, we've been good on home ice and that's where we're comfortable." The only case against these Penguins has been their lackluster record on the road, but that poor public perception allows us to take back a price with the champs, which doesn't happen very often. Backing the Penguins here is a no-brainer from our vantage point because when the chips are down, Pittsburgh is 1000 times more dangerous than Columbus will ever be.
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Pittsburgh +106 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.12)