NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Penguins vs. Predators (March 15)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images. Pictured: Sidney Crosby.
- The Penguins face the Predators tonight for the first time in two years.
- This game opened as a pick'em, although one team has the edge in many statistical categories.
- Carol Schram breaks down the game and gives her top pick, below.
Penguins vs. Predators Odds
|Over/Under||6 (-105 /-115)|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Two strong teams with postseason aspirations will meet up for the first time in more than two years on Tuesday. The Nashville Predators host the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of a busy 11-game NHL slate on Tuesday.
Playing in opposite conferences, these two teams don’t see each other often — although both clubs still have a handful of players on their rosters who were part of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, which Pittsburgh won in six games.
Lately, both teams have regulars at the Stanley Cup dance. The Penguins currently hold the NHL record with 15 consecutive playoff appearances, while the Predators are tied for second place at seven.
Here’s the latest on both clubs, and your best bet for Tuesday’s game.
Penguins’ Veteran Leaders Still Thriving
It’s hard to believe that Pittsburgh captain ‘Sid the Kid’ Crosby will turn 35 this August, but here we are. While the Penguins impressively kept their heads above water while Crosby and fellow veteran Evgeni Malkin were sidelined with injuries earlier this season, both are still important parts of this team’s success.
Pittsburgh comes into Tuesday’s game sitting comfortably in second place in the Metropolitan Division. Crosby is on a nine-game point streak, during which he has six goals and six assists. For the season, the Penguins’ 5-on-5 possession numbers sit in the top 10 in the league. Over the last 10 games, those numbers have dipped a bit, closer to the league average.
Special teams are also solid, with the penalty kill particularly strong at an 85.3% success rate for the year. Pittsburgh is also disciplined, with the second-lowest time spent shorthanded so far this season.
In net, Tristan Jarry will likely make his 46th start of the season on Tuesday. The 26-year-old has earned his No. 1 status, with a career-best save percentage of .922 and goals-against average of 2.32 to go along with his impressive 14.2 goals saved above expected rating (GSAx).
The Penguins are kicking off a three-game road trip on Tuesday, which will also see them stop in St. Louis and Arizona. And for a change, they’re reasonably healthy — only forwards Brock McGinn and Jason Zucker are on the injured list.
Nashville Riding Stellar Play From Saros
The Predators’ chances of extending their streak of playoff appearances are not quite as locked in as Pittsburgh’s. They’ll come into Tuesday’s game sitting in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, five points clear of ninth-place Dallas.
The Preds are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games and tied in points with the Minnesota Wild, who they dispatched by a 6-2 score in an impressive road win on Sunday. For now, Minnesota remains third place in the Central, thanks to having played one fewer game.
Like Pittsburgh, the foundation of Nashville’s success this season has been goaltending. Juuse Saros and Tristan Jarry are only 10 days apart in age, and Saros is also having his coming-out season with a career-high 49 starts so far, during which he’s accumulated a .923 save percentage and 21.7 GSAx.
The Preds have plenty of skill on their roster, starting with captain Roman Josi on the blue line and augmented by forwards like Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen. They’re also a tough team to play against — second in the league in hits behind the Senators and first, by a lot, in total penalty minutes and major penalties.
Only Carolina has spent more time shorthanded this season, but the Predators still come out with a special-teams differential of plus-3: 44 power-play goals scored, against 41 allowed while shorthanded.
That, and Saros’ outstanding goaltending numbers, are important to Nashville’s success. The club’s 5-on-5 possession numbers have been around league average this season, and they’ve slipped a bit further over their last 10 games.
The Preds are in a strange part of their schedule, which is seeing them alternate home and road games. And their roster is also quite healthy, with defenseman Mark Borowiecki questionable against Pittsburgh after missing the last five games with a lower-body injury.
Predators vs. Penguins Pick
It’s a little surprising that this is a pick’em as of Monday evening. Several sportsbooks are favoring the Penguins, who are superior in many statistical categories. And while Nashville gets the edge provided by home-ice advantage, Pittsburgh has been one of the best road teams in the league this year, with a record of 19-6-4 away from PPG Paints Arena.
There’s value on the Penguins on Tuesday. Don’t wait if you can grab them at -110, but be cautious if their line drops much farther.
Pick: Penguins -110 (play to -125)