Image for Max Heering Max Heering - December 15, 2022

Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins: Panthers Need to Slow Down Sidney Crosby

  • The Florida Panthers are 2-2-0 over their last four games.

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins are on a six-game winning streak.

  • The Penguins were 2-0-0 against the Golden Knights last year.

Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins Odds

Odds Taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.

Team

Spread

Total

Florida Panthers

+1.5

BET HERE

O 6.5

BET HERE

Pittsburgh Penguins

-1.5

BET HERE

U 6.5

BET HERE

Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions and Picks

Pittsburgh Penguins beat Florida Panthers 4-3 

Florida Panthers cover

Over 6.5 goals

DraftKings

9/10

Deposit Bonus Up to $1,000

21+ | T&Cs apply

Panthers vs Penguins Predictions

Head-to-Head: Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Florida Panthers

Head-to-Head

Pittsburgh Penguins

Steve Wilks

Head Coach

Mike Sullivan

14-12-4 (4th in Atlantic Division)

Standing

17-8-4 (2nd in Metropolitan Division)


Leaders 


Matthew Tkachuk (39)

Points

Sidney Crosby (38)

Carter Verhaeghe (15)

Goals

Sidney Crosby (17)

Matthew Tkachuk (25)

Assists

Sidney Crosby (21)

Josh Mahura (17)

+/-

Richard Rakell (13)

Matthew Tkachuk (3.82)

Shots (Per Game)

Evgeni Malkin (3.21)

Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions and Picks

The Florida Panthers will travel north to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins. The Panthers are underperforming this season and four points out of the Playoff picture. A victory today could put them within two points of a Wild Card spot. The Penguins are having a significantly better season than the Panthers and are in the second spot in the Metropolitan Division. However, they might be relegated to the third spot with a loss today.

The Panthers have a top-ten offense, but their defense needs some improvement. Florida scores nearly 3.4 goals a game but allows over 3.2 goals a game. The Panthers may need to trade for some better defensemen if they want to make a deep run.

The Panthers arguably have a top-ten player in Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk leads the Panthers in points (39) and assists (25). In addition, he has 14 goals, the second-most on the team. Florida is also seeing strong performances from Carter Verhaeghe, Brandon Montour, and Sam Bennett. Verhaeghe is the top goal-scorer on this team at 15. However, he has not scored in the last three games. Montour leads the Panthers in TOI at 24:40 and has six goals and 17 assists. Finally, we have Sam Bennett. Bennett is the center of this group and an all-around player. He has seven goals and 15 assists.

The Panthers have a unique goaltending situation. Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight split time almost evenly, even though Knight is having a significantly better season. Knight allows 2.64 goals per game, while Bobrovsky allows 3.35. Knight may begin to get most of the starts if he keeps up his level of play.

The Penguins are hot right now and on a six-game winning streak. They are not an elite squad but are very dangerous and poised to make a run. They have the sixth-best offense in the league and allow less than three goals a game. 

The Penguins are a veteran squad led by Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby leads the team in points (38), goals (17), and assists (21). The center may be 35 years old, but he is still performing at a high level. Guentzel has 13 goals and 16 assists. He is a consistent performer for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin is also a consistent performer. He plays over 18 minutes a game and has 29 points. Overall, the Penguins are a team of solid performers with a lot of scoring ability.

Tristan Jarry continues to be the #1 netminder in Pittsburgh. The 27-year-old has a .920 save percentage and allows 2.67 goals per game. Jarry’s #1 spot is safe, but Pittsburgh would be a lot more dangerous if he stepped up a little bit.

This will be a close game, but the Penguins will come out on top. They are surging right now and more well-rounded than the Panthers.

Why Might the Florida Panthers Win?

The Panthers are the inferior team but can win if they score a power play goal and play elite defense.

The Panthers have one of the worst power play units in the league and only convert 18.8% of their opportunities. Florida needs to flip the script in this game and put one in the back of the net when they have a man advantage.

The Panthers sometimes struggle defensively, but that needs to change today. Florida needs to have a strong overall defensive game and see effort from every player on the ice.

Why Might the Pittsburgh Penguins Win?

The Penguins are the favorites and will win if they overwhelm the Panthers with shots and slow down Matthew Tkachuk.

The Penguins average 3.48 goals per game on 33.3 shots. They need to increase their shot output to at least 35 today. This is especially important because the Panthers lack impressive goaltending, so a shot can slip in the net.

The Panthers’ offense is centered around Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk is having a solid season and has over 14% of Florida’s total points. I will not go over Tkachuk’s stats again (you can see them above), but I will say this. The Penguins’ defensemen need to make Tkackuk priority #1.

Panthers Key Players: (D)  Josh Mahura

Josh Mahura is an efficient hockey player. The defenseman plays less than 15 minutes a game and only has seven points (three goals, four assists), but good things happen when he is on the ice. 

Mahura leads the Panthers in TOI at 17. He does not need to do anything different today. He just needs to keep making the correct decisions, and things will fall into place.

Penguins Key Player: (D) Jan Rutta 

Jan Rutta is in a similar position to Josh Mahura. Rutta, also a defenseman, plays just under 17 minutes a game and only has six points (three goals, and three assists). However, he also has a +/- of 12 (second-highest on the team).

Rutta must continue playing solid defense and making the right decisions on the ice.

DraftKings

9/10

Deposit Bonus Up to $1,000

21+ | T&Cs apply

How to Watch Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

  • What - Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins 

  • Where - PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • When - Wednesday, December 14, 7:00 PM EST

  • How to Watch - NHLPP, ESPN+

Image for Max Heering

AUTHOR

Max Heering

225 Articles

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]

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