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Penguins vs. Avalanche NHL Pick – December 18th

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue their road trip as they hit Denver for a clash with the Avalanche. They’ve had stops in Vegas and Arizona thus far, with a loss and win. The Golden Knights have been unbreakable at home this season, and that includes the Penguins who were unable to break through. The Pens took a 2-1 loss in what Marc-Andre Fleury’s first meeting against his former team.

Fleury played out of his mind and was zeroed in from the start. The Pens appeared like they must have suffered a hangover in Vegas, because their struggles continued in the desert. The Coyotes gave them a good fight, but the Pens ultimately came out on top by a score of 4-2. The game was tied at 2-2 late before Olli Maatta scored the game winner and Crosby tacked on an empty netter. It was a lot closer than many expected.

The Penguins will hope for a crisper outing against the Avalanche on Monday night. It hasn’t been the smoothest sailing for the Pens this year. At 17-14-2, they are still running into a wall of resistance. Is anyone too worried? I don’t think so. It almost feels like it’s a matter of time before they begin to break through. They were fortunate enough to not lose Matt Murray for an extended period of time.

Tristan Jarry had the opportunity to show he belongs in the NHL, though. Maybe he’s the next big thing in Pittsburgh. Jarry posted a 2.49 GAA and 0.919 save percentage. Murray had to wait behind Fleury for his chance, and perhaps we’ll see the same situation here. Murray has been spotty in net, with a 2.87 GAA and 0.906 save percentage. He allowed 2 goals each against the Knights and Coyotes. The Pens have been an abysmal 7-9-1 on the road this season. We’ll see if they can find some traction tonight in Denver. Head below for our free Penguins vs. Avalanche pick.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche Pick

The Avalanche are coming off a grueling 6-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That’s a heck of an effort against the best team in the NHL at the moment. The defence just wasn’t able to contain the speed of Tampa. The Avs are not the only team who have struggled trying to contain the Lightning speed. They’ve had a tough schedule of late, with meetings with the Lightning twice, Capitals, and Penguins twice. The Avalanche defeated the Penguins back on December 11th by a score of 2-1. They came back the next night to lose to the Caps. Now they play the Lightning and Penguins back-to-back.

The Penguins are just 4-4-0 in December. Their win over the Coyotes stopped a three-game losing streak for them. They’re actually allowing more goals than they’re scoring per game, with 2.91 goals per game and 3.15 goals allowed per game. With that in mind, the Penguins are lucky to be 17-14-2 instead of something worse. Additionally, despite sloppy play in the last two games, they’ve scored 3.5 goals per game and allowed 2.4 in their last ten. Conversely, the Avalanche have allowed 3.6 per game, while scoring 2.8. I think this is just a brutal stretch for the Avs in terms of their schedule. They took a hard 6-5 loss against the Lightning, and it’d seem they expelled a lot of energy into that game. Now they must turn around and play the Penguins. After taking a 2-1 loss to the Avs on the 11th, I can see the Penguins responding on Monday night.

PICK: PENGUINS (-145)

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