Penguins vs. Hurricanes Pick – NHL January 20th

The Pittsburgh Penguins take their big win against the Montreal Canadiens and travel to Carolina for a clash with the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have quietly been accumulating a decent resume this season. No, it’s not like they are lightning the ice on fire or anything, but they are playing decently enough to be within striking distance of the playoffs, which is all you can really aim for with a team of this calibre. With a record of 21-16-3 they could easily fall off the rails and be under .500 in no time. Conversely, though, a nice push will have them in the postseason contention. They are teetering and it’s going to come down to what transpires in the second-half of the season.

It’s kind of how last season went, they were there, but it just wasn’t far enough. The Canes ultimately concluded the 2015-16 season with a record of 35-31-16, which was in fact their best mark since 2010-11 when they went 40-31-11. There was a day, not all that long ago, when the Hurricanes were crowned Stanley Cup Champions. It’s one of those championships that are easy to forget about, but the Canes were victorious in 2005-06 in seven games against none other than the Edmonton Oilers.

Cam Ward is still manning the pipes for the Hurricanes. He’s been with the Hurricanes for the duration of his career, beginning in 2005-06, the year that they were able to hoist the Stanley Cup. Not a bad way to start a career for a rookie, with a Stanley Cup and knowing that the starting job will be yours soon. He didn’t have to wait very long, as Ward became the full-time starter the following season, not having let go yet. Ward is still here for Carolina and playing considerably well. He takes on a Penguins team who are coming off a nifty win against the Canadiens on the road. It’s been a nice couple of games for the Pens, who knocked the Capitals off before taking a win away from the Habs. They’ll look to make it another for the third straight game against teams with records above .500.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes Pick

The Penguins got a much needed strong performance out of their goaltending. Matt Murray turned in a quality performance, allowing only 1 goal against the Canadiens. That would be the kind of outings you expect this guy to make. It was a considerable bounce back start after he was torched for 7 goals in a 8-7 win. The Pens notched two wins in a row after dropping three in a row. Their offence has been a point of major strength for them. They have averaged 3.52 goals per game on the season, and are now 1st in the NHL with regards to goal scoring. Note that they’ve averaged 4 goals per game in their last ten outings. However, overall, the defence has leaved a lot to desire. The Penguins are currently 24th in the league in goals against.

The Hurricanes were on a nice little run, before the Blue Jackets put an end to their four-game winning streak. Things were looking good for the Canes, as they beat the Bruins, Jackets, Sabres, and Islanders. During that stretch, they averaged 5.25 goals per game. In their last ten games overall, the offence has looked quite good with 3.20 goals scored. The Hurricanes have been fantastic at home, a strong suit that has kept their season afloat.

They are 15-4-1 in Carolina, while 6-12-3 on the road. The Penguins have gone 9-9-2 on the road this season. The Penguins are a good team, of course, but I think they are overpriced in this game. It’s a bit of a hectic schedule, having to play their rivals, then fly to Montreal, and now land in Carolina to play the Hurricanes. I just don’t see them feeling too excited to be here, and conversely, expect a motivated Hurricane team who have the potential to take advantage of the situation. Give me the Hurricanes at this price at home.

PICK: HURRICANES TO WIN +113