The Red Wings play the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at 7 p.m. in Pittsburgh (Bally Sports). Here are six reasons why the Penguins (-1.5, -108 ) should beat the Red Wings at PPG Paints Arena:
The Pittsburgh Penguins are 17-2-1 in their last 20 games. They have been strong offensively, defensively and in net. Their 2.53 goals-against average ranks second in the NHL. Their offense also ranks in the Top 10 and coach Mike Sullivan always seems to get the best out of this group.
Red Wings’ road struggles
Coach Jeff Blashill’s group is 5-12-3 on the road. Detroit has won one road game since Dec. 1. The team has struggled on the road all season, unable to generate the same level of confidence it possesses at home. Pittsburgh is not an easy place to play. Only one of Detroit’s five road wins has come against a winning team. They won 2-1 against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 30.
Dynamic Duo Returns
Evgeni Malkin came back from his knee injury on Jan. 11. The Pens are more formidable when Crosby and Malkin give them one of the league’s top one-two center punches. The Penguins are 7-1-1 since Malkin returned. Malkin has 10 points in those nine games. Crosby also has five goals and five assists in the nine games since Malkin return. The Red Wings don’t truly have a matchup answer for both of those players. With last change, the Penguins should have favorable matchups all night.
The Red Wings give up too many prime scoring opportunities. The Penguins have an offense that will capitalize on those chances, Over the past two months, they are scoring better than four goals per game. The Red Wings rank 25th with a 3.40 goals-against average. It also doesn’t help that the Red Wings have below average (77.3%) penalty killing. The return of Malkin to play with Crosby on the power play makes them more dangerous
Tristan Jarry vs. Alex Nedeljkovic
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a significant advantage in net. Jarry has played brilliantly this season for the Penguins. posting a 2.15 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. Nedeljkovic seems tired. With Thomas Greiss on the COVID-19 list, Nedeljkovic has started seven consecutive games. Greiss still isn’t back. The Red Wings might start Calvin Pickard against Pittsburgh and bring Nedeljkovic back for Saturday’s game against Toronto. Either way, Jarry gives the Penguins the edge.