NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Ducks vs. Penguins (January 16)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Ducks vs. Penguins (January 16) article feature image

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Troy Terry #19 of the Anaheim Duck

  • The Penguins hope to halt a two-game skid when they host the Ducks on Monday night.
  • Both teams have been failures this year, but betting angles remain, including for tonight.
  • Below, Grant White explains why he's targeting the total in this matchup.

Ducks vs. Penguins Odds

Ducks Odds+240
Penguins Odds-295
Over/Under6.5 (-114 / -106)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

It's hard to believe, but we're already past the halfway point of the NHL season, and the playoff picture is quickly coming into focus. That's terrible news for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have dropped eight of their past 10, albeit with two losses coming in overtime.

They'll be hoping to pump the breaks on a modest two-game losing skid when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Anaheim has been one of the worst teams in the league, but somehow, the Pens have been worse recently.

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Anaheim Ducks Could Actually Get Worse

Although it might not be reflected in the standings, objectively, nobody has been worse than the Ducks this year.

At five-on-five, the Pacific Division basement dwellers rank last in expected goals-for, thanks to their 38.1% high-danger and 41.8% scoring chance ratings. Moreover, the Ducks have been chasing the puck for most of the season, posting a cumulative 43.7% Corsi rating. Yet somehow, Anaheim has lowered the bar over its recent sample.

Since Jan. 4, the Ducks have posted a cumulative 36.2% expected goals-for rating, below their season average of 39.5%. Worse, they've been bleeding chances, giving up an average of 15.8 high-danger and 34.2 scoring opportunities per game. As expected, that's resulted in more goals against, with Ducks' goaltenders allowing 20 tallies at five-on-five and 23 altogether.

The confusing part of their current stretch is that the Ducks are actually winning games. Anaheim knocked off the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars 2-0, following that up with a 5-4 victory over their in-state rivals, the San Jose Sharks. They've dropped three in a row since then but have still exceeded their piss-poor metrics.

The Ducks have struck an unsustainable balance and could start to tailspin as they embark on a six-game road trip.

Gut-check Time for Pittsburgh Penguins

Results aren't the only factor not going Pittsburgh's way these days. The once-proud  Penguins have dealt with a rash of injuries, particularly on the backend, and have watched their metrics plummet.

They were showing signs of rebounding before a personal emergency impacting one of their core players threw the Pens into a state of disarray. Their analytics suffered because of it, and now they'll need to start their climb back to relevancy.

Pittsburgh played two games over the weekend, posting expected goals-for percentages below 39.5% in both contests. Offensively, the team can't get anything going in the attacking zone, with the Penguins attempting a combined 13 quality chances and 33 scoring opportunities across the two outings. Further, play in their defending zone has deteriorated, with four of their past six opponents attempting at least 10 high-danger chances.

The Pens aren't as bad as they've shown lately, but with their defensive woes unresolved and a condensed weekend schedule, it might not happen against the Ducks. Sidney Crosby appeared injured against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, and Dustin Tokarski isn't the answer between the pipes until Tristan Jarry returns.

The next few weeks will be a gut-chek time for the Penguins – and could also be the turning point where it all went wrong.

Ducks vs. Penguins Pick

There may be an advantage in backing the Ducks to cover the puckline at plus money; however, given their recent defensive shortcomings, we're taking a different approach to this inter-conference battle.

Neither team has looked good offensively, and the Ducks could have their sea legs underneath them as they play in the Eastern time zone for the first time in over a month. Pittsburgh needs to tidy up their defensive efforts and won't be selling out offensively.

Consequently, we're expecting this one to stay under the total.

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