Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Odds, Betting Pick & Prediction: Bet the Pens in Jason Zucker’s Debut Game?


Douglas Jones/Icon Sportswire). Pictured: Sidney Crosby

Feb 11, 2020, 06:33 PM EST
  • The betting odds have moved toward the Pittsburgh Penguins in Tuesday's night's NHL game against the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning, but should you be picking the Pens?
  • NHL betting expert Michael Leboff analyzes the matchup and picks out his favorite bet on the board.

Lightning at Penguins Odds

  • Lightning odds: +100
  • Penguins odds: -120
  • Over/Under: 6
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

Odds as of Tuesday morning

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a splash last night by trading Alex Galchenyuk, a first-round pick and a prospect to the Minnesota Wild for top-six winger Jason Zucker.

Zucker makes the Penguins, already an elite team, even better. He will likely slot in right next to Sidney Crosby on Pittsburgh’s top line, the coziest spot in the NHL.

Considering that Pittsburgh has put together one of the best records in the NHL this season despite a rash of injuries to star players and a rotating cast of characters on its top two lines, it’s scary to think about what the Pens can do with an actual first-line winger playing next to Sid the Kid.

The addition of Zucker comes at a good time, not just because the Penguins are closing in on the Capitals at the top of the Metropolitan Division, but also because Pittsburgh has actually struggled a tad of late. Despite a 7-3-0 record in their last 10 games, the Penguins have struggled to drive play in that span with a 47.4% expected goals rate.

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A blip like that isn’t a big deal for a team like Pittsburgh, especially since its defense is still holding steady. The offense may be running a little slow right now, but Zucker’s arrival should help to bolster an offense that has been a little piecemeal through the first four months of the season.

The Penguins host the Lightning on Tuesday night.

The Tampa Bay Lightning come into Pittsburgh on a seven-game winning streak, allowing just 11 goals against in that span. Casual fans may look at Lightning vs. Penguins and immediately think offense, but the truth is that this is a matchup of two of the best defensive teams in the league. They just also happen to have an immense amount of offensive talent, too.

This may be weird to say about a team on a seven-game winning streak, but the Penguins may be getting the Lightning at just the right time on Tuesday.

Not only is Tampa playing on the second night of a back-to-back and for the third time in four nights, but the Bolts are also banged up.

Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta will be missing from Tampa’s blueline and Steven Stamkos was held out of Monday’s game against the Blue Jackets. There’s no word on Stamkos’ availability against Pittsburgh, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

Betting odds provide context and this is what the market is telling us about this game. At the listed odds, the Penguins have an implied probability of 52.2% against the banged-up Lightning. That means, on neutral ice, the Bolts would be a favorite in this spot against Pittsburgh. If Tampa was at full strength or even on regular rest, sure, I would agree that the Lightning should be considered favorites in a vacuum, but not in this instance.

The market has moved towards the Penguins but I still think -120 is a fine bet on Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

Pick: Penguins -120

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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