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NHL Odds, Expert Pick & Prediction: Oilers vs. Penguins (February 23)

NHL Odds, Expert Pick & Prediction: Oilers vs. Penguins (February 23) article feature image

Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers.

  • The Penguins host the Oilers on Thursday night.
  • Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid provide plenty of star power for this matchup, but where is the betting value?
  • Nicholas Martin dives into the matchup and offers up his best bet below.

Oilers vs. Penguins Odds

Oilers Odds -106
Penguins Odds -113
Over/Under 7
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will host Connor McDavid and the Oilers Thursday night for what should be a thrilling matchup.

Pittsburgh has now struggled over a relatively large sample size and enters this matchup in the thick of a wildly competitive battle, and desperate for two points.

The Penguins opened as a slight favorite, but early money has quickly pulled the prices even. Can Pittsburgh clean up its sloppy defensive play in a matchup versus an elite offensive side?

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Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton’s roster isn’t perfect, but this still looks to be the Oilers most well-rounded roster of the McDavid era and that has been evident recently.

Over the past 10 outings, Edmonton has controlled play to an elite 59.98% expected goals rating, and 3.97 xGF/60.

Those elite marks have more or less met the “eye test” and outside of a few sloppy defensive miscues, the Oilers are no longer looking like a team being dragged along by McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

If Edmonton is going to consistently get the better of the overall play, it should find extremely favorable results because the scoring talent is there to convert chances at a high rate.

The Oilers’ power play also ranks first in the entire league, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the top unit looks downright lethal on a nightly basis.

The goaltending tandem of Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell is the clearest flaw with the Oilers current makeup relative to other cup contenders, although it’s worth noting there are only only a handful of teams feeling completely content in that regard.

Skinner will likely start in this contest, although a start for Campbell wouldn’t be shocking as the competition for starts has heated up recently.

Skinner has played to a +1.0 GSAx rating and a .913 save % through 31 games played.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Even with Kris Letang and Jeff Petry back in the lineup over the past few weeks, Pittsburgh has continued to have an extremely difficult time defensively.

Pittsburgh’s third line of Jeff Carter, Brock McGinn and Kasperi Kapanen has struggled at even strength and is a significant flaw. The trio has played to a 38.7 xGF% through 163.4 minutes together and it seems unlikely that improved form is on the horizon.

The Penguins have allowed 4.20 goals against per game over the past five, which is not drastically worse than it has allowed over a massive 25-game sample size.

Over the past 10 games, Pittsburgh has allowed 4.02 xGA/60, which is the second-worst rate in the league over that span.

Tristan Jarry returned from injury Monday after a month-long layoff, and allowed four goals against on 31 shots in a reasonable showing against the Islanders.

Jarry has played to a +3.9 goals saved above expected rating and a .920 save % through 28 appearances this season and should start Thursday.

Oilers vs. Penguins Pick

Edmonton is one of the toughest teams in the league to keep in check as it boasts plenty of firepower and an incredible top power play unit.

It is tough to imagine Pittsburgh cleaning up its suspect defensive play in this spot. Pittsburgh’s third line has been a train wreck and this matchup has pivoted to the point where McDavid and Draisaitl might actually be taking the ice with a better supporting cast than the Penguins’ stars.

Backing Campbell or Skinner is not overly fun, but Jarry is still looking to find his form as he returns from injury.

It is hard to see any areas in which Pittsburgh has displayed better form recently than Edmonton, and I believe the Oilers have the edges to be a -125 favorite here.

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