Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
20-6-6 (1st in Metropolitan Division)
19-9-4 (3rd in Metropolitan Division)
Martin Necas (30)
Sidney Crosby (42)
Andrei Svechnikov (17)
Sidney Crosby (18)
Brent Burns (18)
Sidney Crosby (42)
Brady Skjei (11)
Rickard Rakell (10)
Martin Necas (3.44)
Shots (Per Game)
Jake Guenztel (3.14)
The Carolina Hurricanes will go to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins for the third time this season. The Hurricanes are sitting atop the Metropolitan Division after beating the New Jersey Devils in their previous game. They could cement their spot with a win today. Conversely, the Penguins are in the third spot in the Metropolitan but could fall into a Wild Card spot with a loss and New York Rangers victory.
The Hurricanes have had problems offensively all season long. Carolina shoots almost 35 times a game but averages less than three goals. Defensively, they are one of the best teams in the NHL, but their offense has to improve.
The Hurricanes struggle offensively but have some scorers in Martin Necas, Andrei Svechnikov, and Sebastian Aho. Martin Necas has 13 goals and has thrown in 17 assists. Andrei Svechnikov leads the team with 17 goals and converts on over 17% of his shots. Finally, we come to Sebastian Aho. Aho may be the best player in this group, even though he only has 11 goals. However, his game is the most well-rounded since he can do so much with the puck.
Pyotr Kochetkov is the #1 goaltender in Carolina at the moment. Kochetkov has stepped up in Frederik Andersen’s absence and has been a top-three goaltender in the last month or so. The 23-year-old has a 1.94 goals against average (second-lowest in the league) and three shutouts (tied for the most in the NHL).
The Penguins are in a better position than the Hurricanes. Their offense is electric and averages nearly 3.5 goals per game. Defensively, they are not as strong as Carolina but still in the top ten. The Penguins do not have an elite roster, but their veteran experience can push them to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Penguins bring significantly more to the table offensively than the Hurricanes. Pittsburgh has weapons in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, and Rickard Rakell. Crosby is the top player in this group with 42 points, but Malkin has 22 assists, Guentzel has 15 goals, and Rakell has 13 goals and a +/- of 10.
Tristan Jarry is the primary netminder in Pittsburgh. Jarry is a little better than league average but, more importantly, is a consistent performer that does not have too many off days. He will stay in the #1 role if he continues at this level of play.
The Hurricanes are on a six-game winning streak, but I would bet on the Penguins. The Penguins may have lost on Sunday (to the Hurricanes), but they have won eight of their last ten games.
The Hurricanes have a tough matchup on their hands but can win if they score three or more goals and draw penalties.
Three goals is not a lot to score in one game but is usually enough for the Hurricanes. Carolina allows less than 2.6 goals per game, so three goals may do the trick. In addition, they have scored at least three goals in five of their last six victories.
The Hurricanes have a horrendous power play unit and only convert a measly 18.3% of the time. That is one of the worst power-play units in the league and one that needs to improve. That improvement must start tonight. The Hurricanes need to draw penalties and convert at least one with a man advantage.
The Penguins are hot, but so are the Hurricanes. They will only win this game if they pass a lot and overwhelm the Hurricanes with shots.
The Penguins average 1.75 assists to one goal this season. Their passing skills will be even more important as they face one of the NHL’s best defenses. Pittsburgh must be unselfish and pass the puck a lot. If they do, they will confuse the Hurricanes’ defensemen and get more scoring opportunities.
The Penguins average over 33 shots a game. However, they typically face teams with worse goaltenders than the Hurricanes. Since the Hurricanes’ goaltenders are often elite, the Penguins must increase their shot output closer to 40.
Jacob Slavin is having a mediocre season. The defenseman plays over 22 minutes a game and has one goal and eight assists. However, he brought his A-game in the Hurricanes’ previous game and finished with two assists.
I would not usually pick Jacob Slavin, but his two assists have given him momentum heading into this game. He must take advantage of that momentum and keep on passing.
Is anyone surprised by this choice? Sidney Crosby is the premier player on the Penguins and one of the greatest players of all time.
It appears the Penguins’ offense is focused around Crosby. Since this is likely the case, Crosby must make plays and score or set up his teammates. As long as he is contributing to the Penguins’ scoring, he is doing his job.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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