NHL Predictions: Penguins at Panthers Odds and Picks
by George Monroy - 10/11/2013
The Pittsburgh Penguins will finally hit for the road for first time this season when they visit the BB&T Center to face the Florida Panthers on Friday night. Pittsburgh opened the year with three straight home games and has already managed to look extremely impressive over that span, booking three dominant wins, scoring 12 goals, and getting a hat trick from Jussi Jokinen. The Penguins will be on the first game of a road back-to-back on Friday night, but are still in the middle of a very generous portion of the schedule where they will play seven of their first 10 games at home.
The Florida Panthers did not start the year on such a high note. The team opened the season with a solid 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars but dropped their next two games—one of them an embarrassing 7-0 blowout to the St. Louis Blues.
The Panthers played four straight road games to begin the season and will finally get to settle in at home for a two-game stand. However, the team will not get to the generous portion of its schedule until Oct. 17 when they return home for six straight games. Many experts predicted Florida to be the worst team in the Eastern Conference, so at this point in the year the team is simply looking to get any wins that it can and not dig too much of an early-season hole. Let’s take an in-depth look at tonight’s Penguins versus Panthers matchup and figure out the best side to wager on.
Penguins at Panthers Betting Story Lines
The Penguins opened the year on a terrific three-game stretch. The team beat the New Jersey Devils, 3-0, the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1, and the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2, on the way to its best start of the season in nearly 20 years. As odd as it may sound, Pittsburgh has not won its first three games of the year since 1994-95. The Penguins also have not trailed once during their first three games, and have been on a dominant run led by Sidney Crosby, who has already scored four points, and Jussi Jokinen, who netted a hat trick against his former team on Tuesday night. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has also been in excellent form and stopped 32 shots against the Hurricanes.
Penguins forward James Neal aggravated an injury during opening night against the New Jersey Devils and is not expected to play tonight. Neal did not travel with the team during its two-game road trip and is not expected to play until next week at minimum. This season the team has averaged a total of 31 shots per game and only allowed its opponents an average of 27.3 shots. Pittsburgh is also ranked first in goals allowed, third in goals per game, and seventh in power play percentage.
Florida has had a difficult start to the season and lost to the Blues, 7-0, and Flyers, 2-1, after starting out the season with a solid win over the Dallas Stars. The Panthers are simply in a bad place at the moment and, unfortunately things are not expect to improve. The team is ranked 28th in goals per game (1.7), 25th in goals allowed (3.7) and 28th in power play percentage. Its still early in the season, and maybe things can turn around, but the oddsmakers are expecting the Panthers to be the worst team in the Eastern Conference and placed the line on the total points they would score this season at 72.5, which is somewhere in the 30-win range.
Penguins at Panthers NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
Pittsburgh opened as a -180 road moneyline favorite against a Panthers team that is on the second night of a back-to-back, according to BookMaker. Florida is a +155 moneyline underdog for tonight’s matchup. The total was set at 5.5, with the “over” being favored at -125. Pittsburgh’s “under” has come in twice during the last three games, while Florida’s has only come in once in three games. The under also has a 4-1-1 record over the last six meeting between the two teams. The Penguins are 19-7 over the last 26 games against Florida, and the home team has a 5-2 record over the last seven.
NHL Predictions: Penguins at Panthers Betting Picks
There is always value wagering on a home underdog, especially with +155 odds. Many times in sports betting price will dictate the best side of a game to wager on. And the Panthers definitely have value getting a positive payout during its home opener. However—and that is a big ‘however’—the team is facing a juggernaut of the Penguins team that is expected to run rampant over the Eastern Conference. The Panthers are not expected to win very many games, and it is possible that they do not beat Pittsburgh once this season. Wagering against on road favorites is always a tricky situation to navigate, but this just feels like one of those times where the home team is simply overmatched and will have a trouble keeping the game close.
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