Penguins at Hurricanes Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 4/9/2013
One team needs to get back on track after a brief blip on their seemingly inevitable march to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins also need to shake a whole bunch of recent bad luck. The other team just needs this season to end. For the Hurricanes the playoffs are still a mathematical possibility but nothing more. It’s a mismatch, but there are enough storylines in this one to make for a reasonably interesting game for a Tuesday night in April.
Penguins at Hurricanes Betting Storylines
You could call it the curse of Jarome Iginla. The long-time Calgary Flames captain was the big prize leading into the Trade Deadline. As soon as the Penguins won the battle for him, though, the team’s luck really turned bad. In the first shift of Iginla’s first game, Sidney Crosby took a puck to the face. The resulting broken jaw required surgery and a hospital stay, and his return is uncertain at this point. Paul Martin broke his wrist, and surgery will keep him out four to six weeks. Then James Neal suffered a concussion in the last game. His status is uncertain. However, given that Crosby lost most of a season to a concussion, the team is understandably touchy about head injuries. Kris Letang is out as well, so there are four key players who won’t be available. Thanks, Jarome.
The loss of Crosby and Neal has forced the team to shuffle both of the top two lines — two units that were working extremely well together. Now Iginla will be playing with Chris Kunitz, who has been spectacular beside Crosby all year, and Evgeni Malkin, who recently returned to health. That means that the top two lines have now been juggled to some extent for five straight games — hardly an ideal situation.
The Penguins aren’t the only ones dealing with the loss of key pieces for this one. Three major factors to what little success that Carolina has had this year won’t be available. Goalie Cam Ward has been out since the beginning of March, and he will miss the rest of the year. Defenseman Joni Pitkanen hit the boards foot first on April 2 and broke his heel. The impact cost him his season. Alexander Semin, the team’s second-leading scorer, suffered an upper-body injury last week, and he is unlikely to play as well. The advantage the Hurricanes gain from Pittsburgh’s injury woes are more than offset by what the Hurricanes have lost.
An interesting subplot here is the chance for Jussi Jokinen to face his former team so soon after leaving them. After Crosby was hurt, the Penguins picked up Jokinen at the Trade Deadline because the versatile forward can effectively fill the gaps until the team returns to health. The Penguins absolutely stole the 30 year old — they only gave up a conditional sixth- or seventh-round pick, and Carolina will pay some of the player’s salary next year as well. The Hurricanes just wanted to get rid of him, and Jokinen will surely be motivated to show them that that was a mistake. He was absolutely brilliant in his debut with Pittsburgh. he scored the only regulation goal against the Rangers, then he was the only player for either team to score in the shootout. He also won 13 of 15 faceoffs while playing with Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. He could be half that good the rest of the way and would still go down as one of the all-time deadline steals.
The schedule makers really have it in for the Hurricanes. The day before playing Pittsburgh they had a road date in Boston. That means that within 24 hours they will have faced the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. Brutal. Carolina has gone 4-3 in the second half of back-to-back games, but they have dropped their last two.
Penguins at Hurricanes NHL Odds and Betting Trends
BookMaker has opened the Penguins as -156 road favorites with the Hurricanes coming in at +136. The total has been set at 5.5.
The Hurricanes have just one win in their last 12 games heading into this Boston-Pittsburgh doubleheader. They have lost their last seven road games. The “under” is 11-1-1 in the last 13 games Pittsburgh has played. The home team has won seven of the last eight meetings between these teams.
Penguins at Hurricanes Picks and Betting Predictions
Despite their challenges the Penguins are the pick here. The price isn’t great, but it is better than it could be because they are on the road and because of their highly-publicized injuries. Carolina is in tough because of their schedule and their injury issues.
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