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Pens Are Tough, Even Without Crosby

Posted by Webster Washington on 10/18/2016 3:11:11 AM

With Sidney Crosby sidelined by a concussion, the Pittsburgh Penguins' chances of returning to the Stanley Cup finals are certainly diminished. But for NHL betting, this is still a team to be reckoned with. Here's how the Crosby effect might play for the Pens.

The Situation

Crosby went down on Friday during practice, then sat out Saturday's preseason game against Columbus and through practice on Monday to undergo concussion testing. When the Penguins announced the decision to hold Crosby out, they set no timetable for his return.

Crosby's concussion history indicates the future is not good. He was hit during the 2011 Winter Classic and held out with a concussion, playing only 41 games that season. Then he played only 22 games in the 2011-12 season. The Penguins are sure to be cautious this time.

NHL Betting on Pittsburgh

Crosby played superbly in the Stanley Cup run last year and during the World Cup of Hockey, so his absence definitely has the Penguins' lights flickering. But this team is built for championships, largely because of depth. And when you look at the forward lines, there is plenty or reason to believe in the Pens. The four centers are Matt Cullen, Evegni Malkin, Nick Benino and Eric Fehr. Toss in wingers such as Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin and Chris Kunitz, and the Pens are still a formidable force. For Coach Mike Sullivan it will just be a matter of mixing and matching.

The Penguins open the regular season Thursday against the Washington Capitals. I'm looking for the Penguins to come out fired up, but the sudden shift of lines may not work so well against a solid Caps lineup. NHL betting on the game is hard to figure. As October progresses, however, expect the Pens to get into a rhythm and win regularly. When Crosby missed most of the 2011-12 season, the Penguins still won 51 games and made the playoffs. Still, they can't afford many more on the injury list. Currently, in NHL betting futures, the Pens (+900) are just behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (+800) in odds to win the Cup, but favored (+400) to win the Eastern Conference. I'm not on board for either, at least until I see more.

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