Tonight in Denver, the Pittsburgh Penguins will visit the Colorado Avalanche, who have won six in a row and can tie for the division lead with two points if they win.
Cale Makar (questionable) and Evan Rodrigues (concussion) are the latest Colorado injuries, but if there’s a team that can bounce back, it’s the defending champions.
Should bettors tonight in Colorado look to the goal market for some plus-money winners, given Pittsburgh’s recent losing ways due to some awful play in the net?
Learn my free NHL picks and predictions for the 22nd of March, when the Penguins take on the Avalanche.
Penguins vs Avalanche picks and predictions
Tonight at Ball Arena, things could get nasty for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Over the last month (11 starts), Tristan Jarry has a GAA over 4.00 and is last in goals saved above average (GSAA).
The Pens are 26th in the league since the beginning of the year on the penalty kill, where Jarry is getting dominated. As a result, the Colorado Avalanche power play has been converting at a rate of 30% this month, which is fantastic news for an offense that is averaging over 4.00 goals per game.
Losing Cale Makar would be devastating, but it would give Nathan MacKinnon more responsibility for driving the offense. MacKinnon has scored at least one goal in 14 of his last 19 games and is currently on a nine-game point streak. He also leads the NHL in shots on goal since January 1. At bet365, he is listed at +110 for a goal, while at other books he is as short as -140.
365 doesn’t account for goals scored in overtime, but it’s still the best odds available in a game that could end in a shootout.
Given that he is skating alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the first line, Denis Malgin to score at +450 (FanDuel) is also an option worth considering.
Penguins vs Avalanche moneyline analysis
Since Cale Makar seems likely to miss a second straight game, the moneyline on the Avalanche has dropped from -170 to -160. I still believe the Avs are the correct side despite the shift.
The Penguins have yet to be very good as of late, losing four in a row and going winless in their last 10 games (versus the Flyers of all teams). The offense is creating a ton of scoring chances, but the goaltending and special teams have been terrible this month, driving up the team’s goals against average to 3.70.
In spite of outshooting its opponents by a margin of eight shots per game, Pittsburgh has a negative goal differential of -0.80 per game over that 10-game stretch. Tonight’s matchup between the Avs and the Pents, who are playing their ninth game in 16 days, could look better.
Colorado, meanwhile, defeated the Blackhawks 5-0 in a shutout on Monday. The Avs have had a relatively restful schedule, playing at home since Saturday night and piling up points.
Colorado has won six in a row and is second in the division by two points. They’ve had to deal with injuries again, but they’ve become accustomed to playing the “next man up” game this season.
If Rantanen and MacKinnon are on, Colorado has a chance to beat anyone tonight, regardless of Makar’s availability. Between them, they’ve scored 15 times and tallied 32 points in the Avs’ last 11 contests.
Alex Georgiev also holds the goaltending advantage, with a perfect 5-0 record and 1.57 goals against average in his last five starts. Jarry has a 4.05 GAA over his last 11 games in March and has lost his last three starts.
Getting this one in regulation time would be a good bet for me at -110 or better, as I like the Avs. Over 3.5 points for the team total at -115 could be an attractive option.
Penguins vs Avalanche Over/Under analysis
Considering how well Colorado has been playing offensively, it is surprising to see some action to the Under on a total that opened at 6.5.
Since January 1st, Pittsburgh’s penalty kill has been at just 75%, meaning the Avalanche’s power play will get some good looks tonight.
Pittsburgh’s defensive unit has been hit by injuries, which could hamper their performance in 5-on-5 and special teams. Jeff Petry is day-to-day after missing two games in a row, while Jan Rutta is week-to-week and Marcus Pettersson is doubtful to play again this season. Three of the top four defensemen in terms of ice time this season all play significant roles in the team’s penalty kill.
The Rockies have scored on the power play in eight consecutive games. This is still a dangerous, assured team, even without Makar.
Furthermore, the Pens have the offensive firepower to score at least twice tonight. This offense has been putting up good numbers this month, second only to the Panthers in shots per game at 37.1.
Looking to place some ice hockey betting tonight? Despite ranking seventh in expected goal percentage, Pittsburgh is currently in last place in the league this month with a 7.8% shooting percentage. The Pens have also created the second-most high-danger chances since March 1st, but have yet to convert on them.
However, that will change in the future, so I will be betting on the Over and predicting a 5-2 or 6-3 final score.