Penguins Own The Most Dangerous Offense Heading In To NHL Playoffs
The Chicago Blackhawks have dazzled all season with their ability to score goals. They still aren’t the highest-scoring team in the NHL. That title belongs to the Pittsburgh Penguins – the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins have led the NHL with an average of 3.28 goals per game, just ahead of the Blackhawks’ 3.15 mark. What makes Pittsburgh’s goal scoring that much more impressive is that they have continued to find ways to put up big online sports betting numbers even without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup. Crosby led the league in scoring by a wide margin when he was hit in the mouth with a slap shot and has been cleared by doctors to return to practice, while Malkin has spent time resting his shoulder and preparing for what the Penguins hope will be an extended playoff run.
It was only this week that Crosby was past in the NHL points race, which is remarkable considering he has missed more than a month of sports betting action. Crosby is still just two points back of Martin St. Louis for the NHL points lead, tied with Steven Stamkos at 56 points. Crosby’s 41 assists are also the second-most to St. Louis, and that is even more impressive when you consider he played the first couple of months on a line with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. Crosby is expected to skate on a line with Kunitz and Jarome Iginla when he returns, and that will be a major upgrade on both the top line, and on the third line with Dupuis moving down.
As for the second line, Malkin will also get a new line mate with Brenden Morrow joining him and James Neal. Malkin would be the No. 1 center for the majority of NHL teams, and the combination of him, Morrow, and Neal is easily good enough to be a No. 1 line. With Morrow and Iginla added to the mix, Dupuis and Beau Bennett move to a third line centered by Brandon Sutter, which will be able to do a little bit of everything. That third line won’t be relied on for scoring as much as it will be relied on for tough defensive play, but the fact that it can chip in offensively makes this forward group that much more dangerous. The Penguins also ranked second in the NHL in power play percentage during the year, and that number could get even higher with everyone in the line up.
While the Blackhawks are very dangerous as well, and both the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens rank in the top-6 in goal scoring, the Penguins are truly in a class of their own. Pittsburgh has dominated this season in big part thanks to the top-ranked offense in the NHL, and that has been without a healthy Crosby and Malkin to work with the newest additions in Iginla and Morrow. The superstar power and depth make it so the Penguins have the potential to go all the way this year, and is the biggest reason for them being the online betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
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