NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Penguins vs. Predators (February 28)
Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Evgeni Malkin
- The Nashville Predators host the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Tuesday night NHL matchup.
- With Pittsburgh fighting for playoff position, it has been installed as a road favorite against a Nashville team selling off pieces near the trade deadline.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including how to bet it.
Penguins vs. Predators Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Pittsburgh Penguins are fighting desperately for a playoff spot while the Nashville Predators‘ management is clearly thinking past this season after trading away Tanner Jeannot and Nino Niederreiter for primarily draft picks. The two sides meet on Tuesday night in the Music City.
The Predators’ remaining players haven’t given up, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve won their last three games. Can they pull off an upset and make it four in a row?
The Penguins had a great weekend, earning a 3-2 overtime win to St. Louis and a decisive, 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay. Those four points were critical for the Penguins, but they can’t rest yet. Going into Monday’s action, Pittsburgh possessed the second wild-card spot, but Buffalo, Detroit, Florida and Washington were all within three points of the Penguins.
With the battle for the wild card as tight as it is, Pittsburgh will continue to lean on its veteran stars to push the squad forward. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby have been leading the charge all season with 62 and 71 points, respectively, through 59 games.
Jake Guentzel is another key member of the offense with 24 goals and 52 points in 55 contests, though he has a bit quiet lately with a goal and an assist over his last five outings. The Penguins will also be looking for Rickard Rakell — who ranks fourth in the team’s scoring race with 40 points — to snap out of his three-game scoring drought.
While the Penguins have a couple noteworthy forwards going through small slumps, they can still count their offense as a positive. They rank a respectable 13th in the league with 3.24 goals per game.
Another positive for Pittsburgh is its projected starting goaltender. Tristan Jarry has a 17-7-5 record, 2.79 GAA and .917 save percentage in 30 contests. He’s also coming off a solid performance against the Blues where he stopped 25 of 27 shots.
In addition to losing the recently traded players, the Predators are missing Ryan Johansen (leg) and might not have Filip Forsberg (upper body). To make matters worse, the Predators weren’t exactly dominate offensively to begin with. They rank 24th with 2.91 goals per game.
To highlight just how bad things are, it’s entirely possible that Matt Duchene will be the only forward on the team with at least 40 points to dress Tuesday. By contrast, Pittsburgh is projected to have four forwards with at least 40 points dress, not to mention Malkin and Crosby, who each have more than 60.
At least Nashville still has defenseman Roman Josi, who has 17 goals and 54 points in 57 contests. He’s been doing a lot of the heavy lifting offensively lately, scoring four goals and 10 points over his last five games. In fact, Josi is one of the reason’s for Nashville’s aforementioned three-game winning streak.
Thomas Novak also deserves credit for the Predators’ recent success. The 25-year-old is having a breakout campaign with nine goals and 22 points in 26 contests, including six points over his last three games.
Then of course there’s goaltender Juuse Saros, who has a 23-16-5 record, 2.80 GAA and .916 save percentage in 44 games this season. He’s been particularly good recently, stopping 47 of 51 shots over his last two victories.
But even with all that, the Predators’ winning streak comes with a minor asterisk: the team’s they beat are non-playoff contenders in Vancouver, San Jose and Arizona. Pittsburgh should offer a far greater challenge.
Penguins vs. Predators Pick
Pittsburgh is being treated as mild favorites by oddsmakers, but I would have thought the odds would have favored Pittsburgh a bit more given the Predators’ recent trades and current injuries.
Nashville does have the home ice advantage, and the Penguins have an unremarkable 13-12-5 road record. The Predators are also likely to send out Saros, who is one of those goaltenders who has the potential to steal any given game.
I still see the Penguins as the better team, and Pittsburgh has more to fight for right now. The Predators have shown that they shouldn’t be dismissed, so I’m not confident enough to take Pittsburgh on the puck line, but this moneyline is low enough that I’m willing to wager on the better side.
Pick: Penguins -140 or Better
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