Penguins at Blues Picks
By Jonathan Willis
The Pittsburgh Penguins finally seem to be rounding into form after middling performances through the first two-thirds of the season. Pittsburgh is now in second place in the Metropolitan Division after a big win over Vegas earlier in the week. A road win against the St. Louis Blues would help them close the distance on the Washington Capitals in the race for the division crown.
St. Louis has ideas of its own though. The Blues have the fourth-best record in the West as of Friday morning, and they have been great at home too.
Pittsburgh Penguins at St. Louis Blues
Date and Time:Sunday, February 11, 2018, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
NHL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu: Check Back Later
Penguins at Blues TV Coverage: NBC
Coming into this one, Pittsburgh has won five of its last six games. However, all of those wins came at home, and the one time the Penguins went on the road, they looked completely listless against the Devils. This team has not been good on the road this season, with a 10-15-2 record away from the Steel City.
Over has been a good bet in Pittsburgh games recently, as the offense has scored at least five goals in four of its last five. Unsurprisingly, all four of those games went over the total.
St. Louis has won seven of its last ten coming into this game, and the Blues have been favored in eight of their last ten overall. Unlike Pittsburgh, the under has been the thing to bet in St. Louis games this season. Seven of the last ten games have gone under the total.
Injuries to Watch
The Penguins are winning games despite a number of injuries that have cut into this team’s depth. Wingers like Colin Sheary, PartricHornqvist, and Tom Kuhnhackl have all been added to the injured reserve list with lower-body injuries, causing Pittsburgh to have to rely on some of its depth down in the AHL. Sheary should return soon, but Hornqvist and Kuhnhackl are expected to be out a while.
St. Louis is relatively clean on the injury front. There are no new injuries listed for the Blues, just the two players that have been out since the pre-season.
There has been a world of difference between the power play units for these two teams this year. Pittsburgh has the best power play in the NHL. The Penguins typically stack Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Phil Kessel together, and that is a tough combination to stop. They are finding the net on 26.8 percent of their opportunities, and that buoyed this team when it struggled earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, St. Louis has one of the worst power plays in the NHL. They score at a little over half the rate that Pittsburgh does, and that has hurt this team in low scoring games. The Blues do have more talent on offense than last season, but they need to find something that works on the power play.
These two teams opened the season against each other in the Steel City and this will be their second meeting of the year. St. Louis looked excellent on offense in its opener, with Alex Pietrangelo finding the net twice in a 5-4 win.
Pittsburgh looked out of sorts on the defensive front, as its back line looked slow trying to cover the Blues’ speedy wingers. In particular, Olli Maatta was caught out of place a handful of times. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Blues try to take advantage of that again.
Penguins at Blues Free Picks
This is a tough spot for Pittsburgh to win in. The Pens have a tough road game against the Stars on Friday night and then have to make their way up here. St. Louis has been solid at home this year, winning 63.3 percent of their outings in regulation. Look for the Blues to chalk up another win here to stay in the running for a home playoff series.
Penguins at Blues Pick: Lay the chalk with the Blues
Penguins at Blues Score Prediction: Blues 3 – Penguins 2