Last night could have been the most frustrating night of the season, and not because we lost a bunch of money.
We did take a minuscule loss on the night in a 2-2 split with my four picks, but boy we were set up for big-time success only if our favorites could have come through for us.
I had the Maple Leafs as huge +165 underdogs to go into Tampa Bay and take out the best team in the NHL over the last few months just one game after they embarrassing lost to an emergency backup goaltender.
It didn’t look good when the Lightning opened the scoring, but the Maple Leafs scored four of the next five goals to take a 4-2 lead. While that lead was cut to one in a hectic third period, they held on and edged the Lightning by a 4-3 count, giving us a huge start to our night.
At about the same time, I had the Flyers on the puckline at +105 to beat the visiting Sharks by at least two goals.
The game sat 1-1 after the first, but the Flyers scored the next three goals and took a commanding 4-1 lead. The Sharks narrowed that lead to 4-2, but that would stand as the final score, giving us a 2-0 night and a 2.70-unit profit on the night to that point.
However, it was all downhill from there.
Shortly after those games ended, the Rangers and Islanders started their overtime period tied at 3-3. A broken play led to a puck sliding into the high slot and the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad stepped into a slapshot that beat Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov to complete the upside while dishing us a 1.33-unit loss on that pick.
The late game provided plenty of hope for a profitable night with the Oilers taking on the lowly Ducks in Anaheim.
Although the Ducks jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead, the Oilers tied it up early in the third. They would fall behind again and tie it up again, giving us an opportunity to net a big profit with an Oilers OT win. However, that did not come to fruition as newcomer Sonny Milano scored his second of the night in the extra frame to give us another disheartening overtime loss.
If we get those OT wins, we net a massive 4.70-unit profit. However, with the two OT losses we dropped 0.08 units on the night, a gut punch considering how well the night began.
There’s just nothing to do but briefly complain about our luck and move onto tonight’s three-game schedule!
Season Record: 103-90-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Penguins vs. Kings from the Staples Center in Los Angeles!
Penguins vs. Kings Betting Odds
- Penguins (-200)
- Kings (+170)
- Penguins -1.5 (+125)
- Kings +1.5 (-145)
- Over 6 (-105)
- Under 6 (-115)
Penguins vs. Kings NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s check in with each of these clubs before we get into my final pick!
After a hot stretch that briefly thrust them into the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, the Penguins have lost three straight, including a 5-3 loss to the Capitals who leapfrogged the Pens to regain their perch atop the uberly-competitive Metro.
Their defense has abandoned them of late, allowing at least four goals in all three losses and an average of 4.67 goals against per game during that time.
Two of those three losses came on the road and they allowed nine goals combined in those contests, and while they were against quality offenses in Toronto and Washington, the Pens have now slid into the middle of the pack at 16th with 3.10 goals against per game on the road this season.
Their road penalty kill has been good, however, as they sit fifth with an 82% mark in that department away from home.
Offensively, they haven’t been good enough away from home.
The Pens have fallen to 13th with 3.03 goals per game on the road while their road power play has slipped into 21st with a mediocre 17.1% mark on the season.
They’ve obviously dealt with several key injuries to their offense this season which has hurt those numbers, but I would think they would like to get more offense going on the road down the stretch.
It’s an offense that recently got some upgrades courtesy of general manager Jim Rutherford.
After acquiring Jason Zucker from the Wild earlier in the month, Rutherford acquired Connor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues from the Buffalo Sabres and also veteran Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks on trade deadline day.
Not earth-shattering acquisitions but Rutherford has now infused his lineup with plenty of depth as the team bulks up for what they hope will be a deep playoff run.
While the Pens generally haven’t excelled on the road where they are 15-12-2 on the season, they do excel in the possession game on the road.
At 5v5 on the road, the Penguins rank seventh with a 50.58% Corsi For%, sixth with a 50.54% Scoring Chances For% and fifth with a 50.66% High-Danger Scoring Chances%.
They’ve also received excellent goaltending from Tristan Jarry this season, who I assume will get the nod in this one. The Penguins play tonight and then have a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, so I would think head coach Mike Sullivan will use one of those games to give Matt Murray a start but go with his No.1 to try and secure a win tonight.
Jarry wrestled that No.1 job away from Murray this season thanks to a lights-out 2.23 GAA and .927 Sv% on the season in 30 games while he’s posted a 2.51 GAA and .921 Sv% with a 7-5-0 record in 12 road appearances on the season.
After inevitably cooling off a little bit in January after a 1.54 GAA and .947 Sv% in December, Jarry has bounced back to post a 2.50 GAA and .924 Sv% here in February across four starts.
He is coming off a poor outing, however, when he allowed five goals to the Sabres in a 5-2 home loss on Saturday afternoon.
If Murray somehow gets the nod, he will bring a 2.84 GAA and .901 Sv% across 33 games into this one but just a 3.08 GAA and .881 Sv% in 18 road games.
Murray has also allowed four goals in back-to-back starts, losing both times.
The Kings are set up nicely for the future with a loaded farm system and plenty of draft capital moving forward, however it’s certainly come at expense of the NHL roster.
The Kings have dealt away the likes of Jake Campbell, Kyle Clifford, Tyler Toffoli, Alec Martinez and Derek Forbort this trade season and the current roster is paper-thin as a result.
They actually did quite well in winning three games in a four-game stretch that was capped with a 5-4 win over the visiting Panthers on Saturday, but they have since dropped two in a row – both at home – while scoring just three goals in the process.
That lacklustre offensive output is nothing surprising here.
The Kings enter this one ranked 27th with 2.71 goals per game at home this season while their home power play sits 24th with a 17% clip on the season at the Staples Center.
They’ve been much better at home than on the road this season with their 13-13-2 home record standing far above their 9-22-4 road mark, and it’s due to the difference on defense.
The Kings sit 26th with 3.46 goals against per game on the road, but improve to a share of 12th with 2.82 goals against per game at home despite a home penalty kill that sits 27th with a 75.6% mark.
As a result, their 5v5 home defense has been very good to the tune of 2.21 goals against/60, good for ninth in the league.
Their home possession numbers are also quite good.
At 5v5 at home, the Kings rank sixth with a 54.94% Corsi For%, 11th with a 52.82% Scoring Chances For% and eighth with a 55.04% High-Danger Chances For%.
They haven’t been able to capitalize, however, with a 30th-ranked 6.28% 5v5 shooting rate at home and a 29th-ranked 14.29% high-danger shooting rate at home as well. Simply not enough goal-scorers on the roster.
Like with the Penguins, we don’t know who will get the nod in goal for the Kings tonight, whether it be veteran Johnathan Quick or rookie Cal Petersen.
If it’s Quick, he’ll carry a 2.96 GAA and .898 Sv% into action, but he’s been far better at home where he’s worked to a 2.56 GAA and .909 Sv% with a 9-9-2 record in 20 games.
Quick’s been good this month with a 2.73 GAA and .912 Sv% across seven appearances and most recently turned aside 30 of 31 Avalanche shots in a tough-luck 2-1 shootout loss on Saturday.
If it’s Petersen, he’ll bring in a 3.53 GAA and .897 Sv% in his four NHL starts on the season, going 1-3-0 in the process.
Petersen has made two starts at home and has gone 1-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .912 Sv% in those outings while he posted a not-so-great 3.43 GAA and .906 Sv% in 37 AHL games prior to this NHL promotion.
You never really know how a team will react to acquiring new faces for a playoff push, but you have to think that the Penguins dressing room is pumped to see their GM bring in some help considering how hard they have battled through multiple injuries all season long.
Their depth scoring just got a whole lot better and, of course, the Penguins’ top-six is about as deadly as it gets in this league, although the road numbers might not show that on the surface.
Regardless of who starts in goal for each of these teams, the Penguins should have the goaltending advantage tonight as long as Jarry starts. I don’t see how Murray would get tonight’s start considering he will start one of the upcoming back-to-backs and considering how poorly he’s played on the road to begin with while Jarry has still excelled away from home.
In other words, we have a loaded-up Penguins roster taking on a watered-down Kings roster. On paper, these two teams were a mismatch before any of the trades occurred and now the Penguins are lightyears better than Los Angeles.
Of course, it’s not always that simple and we can take into account that the Penguins’ road record of 15-12-2 isn’t lightyears better than the Kings’ 13-13-2 mark at home.
However, at the day of the day, the Penguins are just the far superior club and the moneyline odds display that quite clearly.
That said, I’m not laying all that juice on the moneyline as the Penguins are more than capable of wrapping this thing up in the game’s first 60 minutes.
As a result, I’ll head to the three-way moneyline and grab the Penguins at much more reasonable -135 odds to take care of the Kings in regulation time tonight.