Devils vs Penguins Odds, Pick: NHL Preview & Prediction (Thursday, November 16)
Pictured: Sidney Crosby. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Devils vs. Penguins Odds
It’s been a rough stretch for the New Jersey Devils, and it won’t get any easier against the Pittsburgh Penguins. New Jersey is riding a three-game losing streak, while the Penguins have won five straight.
Here’s a look at the odds, as well as my preview and prediction for Devils vs. Penguins.
The Devils were a two-headed monster until Jack Hughes got hurt two weeks ago. He hasn’t been ruled out yet, but I think he'll miss tonight’s game. In the meantime, Jesper Bratt and Tyler Toffoli have held down the fort, averaging a point per game. Additionally, Dougie Hamilton and Timo Meier are big-time playmakers capable of picking up any leftover slack.
New Jersey is a high-end team and drives 5-on-5 play at a pretty effective rate. It’s 11th in expected goals with a 53.49 xGF%. Defensively, it’s not bad either, playing to a 2.59 xGA/60.
The power play has been special all season, even without Hughes. The Devils score at an insane 38.5% clip, which is far and away the best in the league. The penalty kill can be better, but it’s passable and succeeds 76% of the time.
The goaltending situation is up in the air holding back New Jersey from being great. No one has been able to claim the top spot this year. Akira Schmid started Tuesday, so I’d guess Vitek Vanecek will get the nod tonight. Vanecek is playing to a very mediocre .887 SV% and a -3.6 goals saved above expected (GSAx).
We all know the aura of Sidney Crosby. The 36-year-old future Hall of Famer shows no signs of aging and leads the team in scoring with 19 points. Behind him, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Erik Karlsson are all also averaging over a point per game, so there’s no shortage of talent in the Steel City.
Pittsburgh is among the better 5-on-5 teams in the NHL. It drives play at a second-best 56.57 xGF%, which shouldn’t be a surprise given its talent. On the defensive end, the Penguins are OK (2.64 xGA/60, which ranks 15th-best).
Given Pittsburgh's numerous playmakers, you’d think the power play would be better. It’s fine, but I’d expect it to be better than the 18.4% clip it scores at. On the other hand, the penalty kill is exceptional, succeeding 85% of the time.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tristan Jarry start his third straight game. The former All-Star is having himself a solid year after a couple of questionable seasons and is playing to a strong .918 SV% and a +3.5 GSAx.
Devils vs. Penguins
Betting Pick & Prediction
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Without Hughes, I see the Devils as being at a significant disadvantage. Pittsburgh is playing its best hockey of the season and outscoring opponents 25-8 over this five-game stretch.
Once Hughes comes back, the Devils will be back to their old self. But even with Bratt and Toffoli playing good hockey, I can’t fully trust New Jersey over Pittsburgh. The Penguins simply have too much firepower and neither Vanecek nor Schmid has proven capable of handling the load.
It’s always a bit riskier picking the puck line, but Pittsburgh has all the momentum and New Jersey is slumping.