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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Penguins vs. Devils (Dec. 19)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Penguins vs. Devils (Dec. 19) article feature image

Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

  • The Devils are home underdogs in their second meeting of the season with the Penguins.
  • The Penguins fell to the Devils 4-2 in their previous matchup on October 30th.
  • Grant White breaks down the game and his best bet below.

Penguins vs. Devils Odds

Penguins Odds-165
Devils Odds+145
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins kick off a home-and-home series Sunday at the Prudential Center.

The Devils benefit from home-ice advantage in the first matchup, but that’s the only edge they have. Needless to say, there’s a substantive difference between these teams that’s not yet reflected in the betting market.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Winners of six in a row, the Penguins are carrying momentum into their divisional matchup against the Devils. Their advanced analytics also reflect that impetus, as the visitors continue to outplay their opponents on a near-nightly basis.

The Penguins have posted the fourth-best expected goals-for percentage at 5-on-5, elevating their position in the standings over their recent sample. Pittsburgh has posted positive relative game scores in five of their past seven, with a cumulative 55.4% xGF rating. The Penguins on-ice success is rooted in strong defensive play, as they continue to play a stifling brand of hockey.

Pittsburgh has limited its opponents to seven or fewer high-danger chances in five of seven games, and 21 or fewer scoring chances in six of seven contests. On average, opponents are attempting 7.1 high-danger and 18.6 scoring chances. Strong offensive play hasn’t come at the expense of its defensive integrity, as Pittsburgh continues to out-chance its opponents.

Sidney Crosby is leading the charge for Pittsburgh, as it has outshot and out-chanced its opponents in quality chances in five of seven games, while putting up more scoring opportunities in all but one of those contests.

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New Jersey Devils

The Devils have been less successful of late, watching their analytics tumble over a recent sample leading to fewer wins. New Jersey’s recent downturn has to do with decreased offensive metrics, which are unlikely to improve against a stingy Pittsburgh side. Compounding that is the fact the Devils are playing their second game in as many nights, wrapping up four games in six-day span.

New Jersey’s offense has fallen off its pace from earlier this season, attempting eight or fewer quality chances in four of its past six contests and 24 or fewer scoring chances in five of six outings. That impacts output, as the Devils have scored more than one goal at 5-on-5 just once over their past six matchups, accumulating seven altogether. New Jersey will need to improve their production metrics before output follows.

The Devils have maintained their defensive structure despite their lackluster offensive performances. Opponents have managed more than nine high-danger opportunities just once over the Devils’ previous seven contests. That hasn’t been enough to shift the relative metrics in the Devils’ favor, though, as New Jersey has posted an expected goals-for percentage below 50.0% in four of their last five games.

Penguins vs. Devils Pick

Objectively, the Penguins have been the superior team throughout the season and over these teams’ recent outings. However, that’s not reflected in the betting price.

Both squads have put forth solid defensive efforts, which should help this game stay under the total. In a tightly contested battle, this one could need more than 60-minutes, but we like the Penguins to come out on top.

Pick: Penguins (-165) | Total Under 6 (-115) | 60-minute draw (+340)

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