NHL Hockey Predictions, Penguins vs Kings Betting Picks

NHLOpening Odds

Penguins at Kings Picks

By Adam Markowitz

After missing out on the playoffs in two of the past three seasons, the Los Angeles Kings are looking to get back to the postseason. The Kings have the best defense in the NHL and have rode that defense this year. However, that defense has had some major problems over the past four games, allowing four goals each game. That has led to four straight losses. Now, the Pittsburgh Penguins are coming to town, and the Kings better hope that defense is shored up.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Los Angeles Kings
Date and Time:Thursday, January 18, 2018, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
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Penguins at Kings TV Coverage: NBCSN

Pittsburgh has not fared well on the road this season. The Penguins have won just nine of their 23 road games and will be behind the eight ball in this one. Whereas the Kings get a few days of rest prior to this game, the Penguins play Anaheim on Wednesday night and will have to travel to face San Jose on Saturday.

The Penguins were a middling team for the first two months of the season, but they have turned it on in recent weeks just like they have in past years. They have won four straight coming into this one, thanks to an offense that has scored 19 goals in those four games.

Los Angeles is one of the rare teams that is better on the road than at home. The Kings have won just half of their home games this season and are 6-16 on the goal line in the Staples Center. During this recent poor stretch of play, the last three games have been at home.

Injuries to Watch

The Kings have been without Jeff Carter all season long. He has been sidelined with an ankle injury, but the team recently got good news as he has finally returned to the ice and is skating on his own.

Not having Carter hasn’t been easy, but this team has really struggled since defenseman Jake Muzzin went on IR with an upper-body injury. It’s no surprise that this team’s defensive collapse has happened with him out of the lineup. The Kings need to get him back soon.

Chad Ruhwedel and Bryan Rust have been on injured reserve with upper-body injuries since the tail end of December, and Carter Rowney was added to IR for that same reason a week later. Ruhwedel may be able to go, but Rust and Rowney will be out for a few weeks longer.

Pittsburgh got good news too when it was announced that Matt Murray would make the West Coast road trip with the team. Murray has been out for the last two games for personal reasons, and his status was up in the air for this trip.

Matchup to Watch

The league’s best power play will face off against the league’s best penalty kill in this one.

With so much talent, it’s no wonder that Pittsburgh has the most effective power play in the NHL. The Penguins have scored on 26.5 percent of their chances as teams eventually crack under the waves of pressure that they can bring. The big three of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel have starred on the man advantage with the trio combining for 25 goals.

Los Angeles has allowed a power play goal in two if its last three games without Muzzin available. Still this is the NHL’s top defense and is tops at killing off penalties too. The Kings have successfully killed off 87.1 percent of power plays this season. That has helped them keep winning in spite of a middling offense.

Penguins at Kings Free Picks

Not having Muzzin is huge for the Kings. However, Pittsburgh won’t be able to take advantage of his absence. This is no longer a young team and road games in back-to-back nights take a toll. Anaheim plays a particularly physical brand of hockey, so Pittsburgh will be bruised heading into this one. That’s all the advantage LA needs.

Penguins at Kings Pick: Back the Kings at home
Penguins at Kings Score Prediction: Kings2 – Penguins 1

NHL Betting Matchups Odds, Washington Capitals at Nashville Predators Picks

Nashville Predators

Capitals at Predators Picks

By Adam Markowitz

The Nashville Predators are the hottest team in the Western Conference right now. Nashville has won four in a row and has proved itself against some of the best teams in the NHL during that slate. The Preds went on the road to win against Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Columbus and followed that up with a shootout win over Pittsburgh in the Music City on Saturday. Their quest to top every one of the best teams in the league during this run continues on Tuesday night when they host the Washington Capitals in NBC’s Tuesday night hockey showdown.

Washington Capitals at Nashville Predators
Date and Time: Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
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Capitals at Predators TV Coverage: NBCSN

Recently, it’s been Nashville’s offense that has come alive in its wins. The Predators have tallied at least three goals in every one of their wins during this recent swing and that has overshadowed some uncharacteristically poor goaltender play. Nashville has allowed 11 goals during this timeframe and it comes as no surprise that three of those four games went over the total.

Washington has been on fire since the start of November. Although the Caps dropped one on national television to the Sabres last week, they have won five of their six this month. Under has been a great bet in Washington games as the last five tilts have had five goals or less.

Key Stats

The Capitals are a little fortunate to be tied for second in the Metropolitan Division at this point. They aren’t as lucky as the Penguins who somehow have the same amount of points despite being -18 in goal differential, but it’s interesting to see Washington with a winning record although it is breakeven in goal differential.

Any time you talk about Washington, the first player that comes to mind is Alex Ovechkin. However, Evgeny Kuznetsov may be even more important to the team this year and he has certainly been more consistent with his performances. Kuznetsov has 16 assists already this season and has played a big part in Washington’s wins. In the Caps’ 10 wins, he has 14 assists, but in the team’s eight losses, he has just two helpers.

While there is certainly correlation with those stats, that amount of correlation is off the charts. Averaging a point and a half per game in wins is extremely impressive and shows that he is coming through for his team.

Player to Watch

Pekka Rinne is the leader of Nashville and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Rinne has been phenomenal this season and has an 8-2-2 record when he is between the pipes. He boasts a 2.23 GAA and a .929 save percentage and continues to dominate into his mid-30s.

His performance has been even more impressive when you consider the fate of his backup, Juuse Saros. Saros has really struggled in his four starts this season, posting a record of 1-3. He has a 3.94 GAA and a save percentage of just .855.

There were doubts about Rinne coming into this season because of his age, but he is continuing to prove all the naysayers wrong. Nashville has to hope that he doesn’t go down with an injury though or else it could submarine its season.

Capitals at Predators Free Picks

The Predators have the advantage when it comes to special teams. Nashville is in the top ten when it comes to both the power play and the penalty kill. That has really helped a team that doesn’t score many goals keep finding ways to win.

Conversely, Washington is in the bottom half of the NHL in both categories. The power play is of particular concern as it should be better with so many playmakers and sharpshooters on this roster, but it has been lacking.

Nashville should be a short to moderate favorite in this one and the Predators are a solid bet. They play great at home and will have a loud, energetic crowd with the Caps in town.

Capitals at Predators Pick: Grab the Predators on the moneyline
Capitals at Predators Score Prediction: Predators 3 – Capitals 1