The NHL season is about a month in, and things aren’t going to plan for the Pittsburgh Penguins. So far, they own 14 points, with an overall record of 5-3-4 through their first 12 contests.
While the Pens weren’t Stanley Cup favorites entering the year, they certainly expected to compete for the Metropolitan Division.
Currently, they sit in seventh out of eight teams and are only two points up on the Islanders in last.
Pittsburgh is getting enough scoring in most games; however, it’s surrendering way too many goals. At the moment, it’s tied with the Rangers for the most goals against in the division with 37.
The Penguins have played one fewer game than their rival, too.
Goalie Tristan Jarry is not doing poorly, though. He ranks among the top 10 in the league in both goals against per game and save percentage.
Pittsburgh’s lost both starts from backup Casey DeSmith.
With NHL betting in West Virginia back for the foreseeable future, let’s examine the Penguins’ upcoming schedule and betting odds.
Pittsburgh Penguins Odds At WV Sportsbooks
Pittsburgh begins a short road trip following its latest home victory. It took down Florida on Thursday night after taking the shootout by a single goal.
On Saturday, the Pens travel north of the border to Ottawa, while they head to the US capital for Sunday night.
This is an interesting trip, as the Senators and Capitals are headed in different directions. The Sens are losers of six straight, while Washington is in second in the division and won three consecutive.
Penguins Vs. Senators Preview
Even though they aren’t playing their best hockey, the Penguins are favored at WV sportsbooks going into Saturday night’s affair. This betting line is probably more about Ottawa, though.
DraftKings WV lists Pittsburgh as the favorite at -140, compared to the Senators with odds of +120.
If you’re taking the goal line, the Pens are giving the -1.5 spread at +165, whereas Ottawa is getting the spread at -195.
Like many Penguins games thus far this season, DraftKings set the game’s total at six goals.
There aren’t such things as must-win tilts this early in the year, but Pittsburgh is likely feeling some pressure to get the two points.
Somehow it hasn’t strung together two consecutive wins yet. In fact, it’s lost five of its last seven outings.
This game against the struggling Senators needs to be a positive result. They lost six straight and only feature three total wins on the year.
Their most recent victory came on Oct. 29 at Dallas.
A statistic that might be more telling than Ottawa’s record is its goal differential. It holds a difference of -15 right now, which is the fourth worst in the NHL.
The Penguins are on the positive side at +1 going into the weekend.
Some Penguins backers might wonder why the odds aren’t in their favor even more. Part of the reason is that they’ve already decided on who’s starting between the pipes at goalie.
It was announced on Friday that Jarry won’t travel to Canada for Saturday and will start against Washington. That means DeSmith and his bloated 4.47 GAA are in net for Pittsburgh in the first matchup.
So far, both games for DeSmith have been forgettable. He allowed four goals in a blowout loss at home against Calgary. Prior to that, the backup gave up five on 39 shots playing the Panthers.
Although the Pens should score in bunches against Ottawa, they need DeSmith to at least demonstrate improvement from his previous showings.
Penguins Vs. Capitals Preview
Saturday night’s results will likely affect the betting odds for the game on Sunday. Regardless, look for the Caps to own the edge, since they’re at home and get to face Pittsburgh on its back-to-back.
Washington is off on Saturday but travels to Columbus on Friday.
These two sides get together a total of four times this season. The schedule makers spread these meetings up, as they never play twice within the same month.
Pittsburgh and Washington both finished last season with exactly 77 points apiece at the top of the East Division.
The Penguins earned the top spot, though, thanks to their 6-2 record against the Caps. Teams played each other more last season because of the realigned divisions.
They’ll hope to continue their success against a squad that probably will qualify for the postseason again.
If the Pens have a quality performance on Saturday, the odds for the following game could be relatively tight. Of course, it helps that their preferred goaltender is in line for the start.
As far as scoring goes, Pittsburgh is paced by center Evan Rodrigues and winger Jake Guentzel. They each have eight points so far.
Rodrigues is tied with Danton Heinen for the team lead in goals at four. His plus-4 rating is also second on the Penguins, behind only defenseman Marcus Pettersson at plus-7.
Of course, the Penguins need others to step up while some guys are still working their way back to the ice. Combined, Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust have played in only six games to this point.
On Sunday night, they’ll need to score at least a couple going against one of the greatest scorers in NHL history.
Washington’s Alex Ovechkin is off to an incredible start this season, accumulating 24 points with 12 goals in 14 games. He scored again on Friday, totaling his 742nd career tally.
This places Ovechkin into fourth all-time on the NHL scoring charts, passing the great Brett Hull. He’s narrowing in on one of the best records in any sport in Wayne Gretzky’s 894 goals.