Ducks Visit Pittsburgh in West-East Matchup
Two teams struggling to find their playoff potential face off Monday night when the Anaheim Ducks visit the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both teams are in precarious positions in their respective races, with the Ducks trying to maintain third place in the Pacific Division and the Penguins caught in a Metro Division logjam that has about seven teams in the hunt for the playoffs.
Ducks Mighty on Defense
The best thing you can say about Anaheim is they defend well. They’re seventh in the NHL in goals against average and first in the league in penalty kill percentage. A lot of that has to do with goalkeeping, where John Gibson (1.99 GAA) and Frederik Andersen (2.37) have been sterling. But the Ducks have not been so good at the offensive end, ranking near the bottom of the league in scoring. Much of that falls on the shoulders of Ryan Getzlaf. The team captain had a paltry three goals on the season going into Thursday’s outing against L.A. He had 30 points, but he needs to put the biscuit in the basket for the Ducks to make the playoffs. Nevertheless, their grind-it-out style may serve them well if they get to post season.
Pittsburgh also has a strong defense, ranking 12th in the league in goals against and sixth in penalty killing. In goal, veteran Marc-Andre Fleury presides with a 2.36 GAA. But the Pens have managed to score this season with Sidney Crosby (45 points), Evegni Malkin (49 points) and Kris Letang (23 assists) at the helm. They are eighth in the league in power play percentage. The Pens won four straight before the All-Star break, and Crosby scored a hat trick in Tuesday’s rollicking 6-5 triumph over Ottowa.
Betting the Matchup
Both teams are coming off back-to-back challenges against playoff contenders; the Ducks against division foes L.A. and Arizona on Thursday and Friday, and the Penguins vs. Metro beasts Florida on Friday and Tampa Bay Saturday. But Anaheim will be battling time zones. This will be the first of a seven-game road swing for the Ducks, and I don’t think they’ll have their cruising legs quite yet. That’s why I like Pittsburgh at -120 or better in the straight-up betting odds. And if you can find a plus goal figure for either team at a similar price, take that too. I’d be tempted to go the under here, but Crosby may go off again.
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