The Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks meet for a clash between the best of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. It’s a rematch of the 2015-2016 NHL Stanley Cup Finals in San Jose tonight. The Penguins are on a tour of the west coast in California, with stops in Anaheim, LA, and San Jose tonight. This will be their fourth game on the road in a row, which started with a 5-4 win over the Flyers. The Penguins have gotten off to a nice start in defending their Stanley Cup Championship. Sidney Crosby already has his name written on the Stanley Cup twice, and has a team who could make it a third time in 2017. The Penguins are 7-2-2 to stake their claim as a team who is fully capable of defending their championship. Marc-Andre Fleury is the primary starter for the Penguins in net this season, a year after he had to sit out and watch Matt Murray play a critical role in the run to the Cup.
Don’t look now, but the Penguins are in serious danger of losing either Murray or Fleury to Las Vegas. The Pens can’t protect both goaltenders, and the expansion team in Vegas will need a goalie. This leaves a great spot for Las Vegas, but the Penguins are left in limbo with this problem looming. If I were a betting man, which of course I am, I would put money on one of them dawning a Las Vegas whatever they’re going to call themselves jersey. The Penguins know that Crosby will be safe from being drafted, that much we can say. Crosby is playing well to open the season, something we couldn’t say last season.
It took until around Christmas for Crosby to get going. In the 2016-17 season, Crosby is leading the NHL in points per game. In only five games since coming back to the lineup, Crosby has accumulated 1.6 points per game. No surprise really from the best player in the NHL. The Sharks, who enjoyed a magical run last season to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Penguins, will be looking for some revenge on Saturday night.
The Sharks looked like a team who couldn’t be stopped. They looked like the team of destiny, but that was before they ran into the Pens in the Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins took care of business, coming out of the series with the Stanley Cup in six games. The way I see it, Pittsburgh are the team to beat again this season. Much of their team is still in-tact, and as long as Crosby stays healthy, they should find themselves representing the Eastern Conference in the finals in 2017.
The Penguins have gone 3-0-1 since Crosby’s return. They are 4-0-1 in their last five games, scoring an average of 3.8 goals per game, while allowing 2.2 goals. I will admit it, the Pens have not produced the kind of gaudy stats you would come to expect from a team who are 7-2-2. They’re 17th in goals against and 12th in scoring. However, watch that all change after Crosby gets some more games under his belt. The Pens should be in the top in scoring before the end of December or maybe sooner. The Sharks look a bit hungover to me, they are 6-5-0 and averaging just 2.45 goals a game and allowing 2.45 for a very average start. This looks like tremendous value to me on the Penguins. It’s a pick hard for me to ignore on the Pens as a dog.
PICK: PENGUINS TO WIN +110