NHL Hockey Betting: Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Hockey Betting:  Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins&h=235&w=320&zc=1

In a historically bad season for Canadian hockey fans the Ottawa Senators to their credit haven’t quit down the stretch. They won’t make the playoffs but they’ve still put out a good effort despite a brutal late season schedule. The problem is that they’ve not only been facing elite level opponents but catching them in situations where they needed a win. They may face their toughest challenge tonight. The Pittsburgh Penguins have experienced a remarkable turnaround since the early part of the campaign. They weren’t playing like the Anaheim Ducks did early on (1-9-1 in their first 11 games) but bad enough to cost head coach Mike Johnson his job. He was replaced by Mike Sullivan and that didn’t get an immediate improvement as the Penguins lost the first first four games and six of eight under their new coach. That was in mid December and they’ve only lost 9 games in regulation since.

Sullivan is now the front runner for the Jack Adams trophy as the Penguins are 30-15-5 under his tutelage after opening the season 15-10-3. They’ve improved as the season has progressed and enter this game having won 12 of their last 13 games. The Penguins have surged past the New York Rangers into second place in the Eastern Conference and Metro Division and are one of only four teams with 100 or more points. The Rangers are just three points behind, however, and the Penguins can’t afford to let up.

Everything is coming up roses for Pittsburgh. The Penguins have lost starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ‘indefinitely’ due to a concussion but, hey, no problem! All they had to do was bring in 21 year old Matt Murray from their AHL affiliate. Murray has not only been a credible replacement for Fleury but has actually outplayed him–7-2-1 with a 1.88 goals against average, .933 save percentage, and one shutout. Not bad for a rookie goalie’s first ten games in the NHL. Ottawa has been competitive against Pittsburgh at home in recent years (2-1) though that means little here. Ottawa has stepped up in class poorly in the second half of the season posting a record of 4-9 against opponents with winning records. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has taken care of business against losing teams going 13-2 versus sub .500 teams since the midway point.

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