The Vancouver Canucks continue their long and dreaded road trip with a stop in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. The Canucks have had business meetings in Nashville, Columbus, Boston, and Buffalo. It’s been a mixed bad thus far, with wins over the Blue Jackets and Sabres. The win over the Blue Jackets was particularly impressive, but it was their first win in six attempts. Vancouver are 2-5 in their last seven games, doing themselves no favors if they want to jump up into playoff discussions. I think that’s a moot topic at this point, because they would have to pull off a small-miracle if they want to make it happen.
I think their final record is going to look a lot like we’re seeing right now, hovering around .500, which isn’t exactly going to be much help to them. This isn’t the NBA, teams don’t automatically reach the postseason by having a mediocre record. However, considering how much the talent level is tilted in the NBA, it’s nearly a sure thing that those seeds aren’t going to get too far.
Anyway, back to the NHL and tonight in Pittsburgh. The Penguins are putting together a campaign that is garnering some looks once again. They’ve situated themselves in a position that puts them right back in the talks for the Stanley Cup. It wasn’t that long ago that Sidney Crosby and company were parading around the ice with the Cup high above their heads. The Pens could be looking at back-to-back Stanley Cups if they continue to play at a high level. They will look to avoid falling asleep at the wheel tonight against the Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick
The Canucks have been trying to find their footing pretty well since Roberto Luongo left to Florida. I said it in one of my earlier articles, but I think you might be hearing about the curse of Luongo in Vancouver in another ten years. He’s having fun in Florida while the Canucks are struggling. Eddie Lack, who was supposed to be his replacement was a major flop. Nevertheless, the Canucks’ issues go way beyond their goaltending. The Sedin’s are no longer at a point in their careers where they can carry this team. Elsewhere, offensive playmakers are tough to find on the Canucks. Vancouver are 27th in the NHL with only 2.34 goals scored per game. On defence they aren’t playing too well either, but it’s better output than what the offence is giving them, with 2.82 goals scored per game for 18th in the league.
The Penguins have been scoring a fevorous pace, averaging 3.54 goals per game this season. That puts them at 1st in the league in goals scored a game. They’ve averaged a whopping 3.60 goals per game in their last ten games, and the defence has been looking better as well with 2.20 goals allowed. The defence and the goaltending hasn’t exactly been playing at a high level this year. They’re 19th, allowing 2.83 goals per game. However, they hope their recent performances rub off the right way over the next few months. They will need to find some defence, or else the Capitals will have their number in the playoffs. They will have no troubles here against the Canucks, who have to be feeling tired and weary on this grueling road trip. They unfortunately catch one of the best teams in the league on the tail-end of their trek.
PICK: PENGUINS -1.5 (+120)