Sunday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New Jersey Devils Betting Preview
Richard A. Whittaker/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images. Pictured: Sidney Crosby
- The Devils are on a two-game winning streak, but do they stand a chance against the talent-rich Penguins?
- Pittsburgh is heavily favored and has Sidney Crosby still chasing his 500th career goal.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.
Penguins vs. Devils Odds
|Time||1:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Sidney Crosby’s pursuit of his 500th career goal will take to New Jersey where he and the Penguins will look for a third-consecutive victory Sunday. The Devils have put together a two-game win streak of their own, and will look to keep it going against some formidable competition.
Analytically, the Devils appear a worthy candidate to continue to produce better results moving forward. Will we see that notion come to fruition against a very strong Penguins roster?
Penguins’ Defense Overlooked
You could sense the urgency coming out of the All-Star break from coach Mike Sullivan’s notoriously competitive squad to get things moving back in the right direction after four consecutive losses, and they have come out strong with wins over Boston and Ottawa.
Looking toward a wider 20-game sample size, the Penguins have been very strong with a 54.73% expected goals rate, and that’s the kind of number we should expect with the team now skating closer to full health.
As we saw much of last season, Pittsburgh quietly holds a very capable defensive core, with Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang composing a very strong top unit, backed up by a great middle pairing of Marcus Pettersson and John Marino.
That fact is oft forgotten because of the offensive talent on the roster, and simply put it’s not overly surprising to see the Penguins again producing very strong results this season, even having played short some key bodies for a ton of games.
A lot of that is thanks to Tristan Jarry, who is in tremendous form. He should get the start here having sat Thursday vs Ottawa. Jarry holds a +15.0 goals saved above expected rating with a .925 save % throughout 38 games played this season.
Devils Lack Defensive Talent
New Jersey has finally managed some better results over the last two games, besting the dreadful Canadiens 7-1 before a 7-4 win in St. Louis two nights later.
A 52.08 expected goals rate over their last 10 games suggests the Devils could have fared better than a 3-7-0 record, but over a massive sample size including the entirety of last season, the Devils have consistently underachieved, specifically defensively, where they continue to allow far more goals than expected.
The obvious causation to that is dreadful goaltending, but the defensive play continues to feature more extreme breakdowns than an average group would produce.
Jonas Siegenthaler is likely not prepared to be a top pairing guy in the NHL, and will remain there for this contest, while P.K. Subban will serve as somewhat of an anchor on the middle pair.
This defense is not set to fare considerably better by any means with the bodies available, which could be tough with the club’s most consistent forward in Jesper Bratt is expected to miss the contest.
Jon Gillies will likely start in goal again, and has struggled posting a -5.2 goals saved above expected rating with an .899 save % throughout 11 games played
Two big wins could have the Devils trending upward, but I suspect we aren’t actually going to see that trend continue. It’s very hard for me to see any of their goaltending options, or this defensive core, allowing them to hold the opposition to a reasonable offensive output most nights.
Pittsburgh holds a wealth of offensive talent and should be at full strength with Evgeni Malkin probable. The stars and strong depth should give problems to the Devils’ bottom two pairs, and altogether I think it’s more likely than a line of +115 suggests that the Pens cover this puck-line.
As well, I’m going to be looking to make a play on Crosby to break through and score his 500th goal in a game where the Pens should be able to produce a good offensive output and will surely be desperate to get him the empty netter at the very least.
That should sit somewhere around +130 or better, which makes it not an overly strong play analytically, but I’m going to be a sucker for the narrative.
Pick: Penguins -1.5 (+115, Play to +100)
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