If there’s one thing to know about the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s this – just when you think it’s time to count them out, they prove to you why you shouldn’t.
The undermanned Penguins had no business even staying in the game with the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the season opener Tuesday, and yet the Penguins crashed the party in Tampa and stomped on the Lightning 6-2.
They got goals from a deep in their lineup, including a guy in Brian Boyle who wasn’t added to the roster until 24 hours before gametime.
The next-man-up mentality definitely worked for one night, but the question is, can it work again two night’s later on the other side of the Sunshine state?
That’s where the Panthers will be waiting for their season opener. It won’t have all the pomp and circumstance that the Lightning had with the pre-game championship banner raising, but you can be assured Florida coach Joel Quenneville will have his team prepared.
The Panthers are a sexy pick to come out of the Eastern Conference this year, and they want to put the league on notice from Day 1. So, once again, on paper, this looks like a bad matchup for the Penguins.
Let’s take a look at this matchup between Pittsburgh and Florida, from a betting perspective in our Penguins vs. Panthers betting preview with odds, picks and predictions.
Penguins vs. Panthers Odds
Here are the lines for Penguins vs. Panthers at DraftKings Sportsbook:
Spread: Penguins (+1.5 -160), Panthers (-1.5 +140)
Moneyline: Penguins (+150); Panthers (-185)
Over/Under: Over 6.5 (+100)/Under 6.5 (-120)
Bets We Like with a Penguins Win
Kris Letang to register at least one point (-155, BetMGM)
With the Penguins missing three of their best offensive forwards, Pittsburgh ran their offense through wily veteran defenseman Kris Letang in Tampa. Letang led all skaters on both teams in ice time (25:16) and captained the lone power play the Penguins had.
Letang finished the game with two assists and with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin definitely out for the game in Florida and Jake Guentzel still questionable, it’s likely the offense will roll through Letang again.
The odds aren’t great at minus-155, but, you can better those odds by taking Letang to register one point on the power play (+350, BetMGM) or to score a goal (+400, DraftKings).
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Bets We Like with a Panthers Win
Aleksander Barkov to score a goal (+125, DraftKings)
Armed with a new 8-year contract, and a sign that the Panthers believe their championship window is officially open, look for the Panthers captain to set the tone for the season and find the net.
In fact, Barkov should come out of the gates flying, as should the rest of the Panthers, as they want to be sure the Division, the conference and the league are put on notice that this is a team to beat in the NHL this season.
It might be worth it to take a flier on Barkov to score the game’s first goal while you are at it (+900, DraftKings).
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Bets We Like Independent of Outcome
UNDER 6.5 goals (-115, FanDuel)
Yes, we told you Tuesday that if you like betting totals that you should look to bet the OVER early in the season. However, there are caveats to that. One is Vegas getting smart and course correcting the lines once they realize that 5.5 is not enough for most early season games, which they did here.
However, what Vegas is missing is playing in Sunrise, Fla. is not the most ideal conditions for ice. Players have complained about how choppy and messy the ice is there for years. Mix that in with the time of year, (It’s still hot in Florida, not just warm) and the Panthers wanting to play their system in the first game of the season, and this one has a low score written all over it.
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Penguins vs. Panthers Prediction
Pittsburgh always seams to be full of surprises, so it’s hard to bet against them frequently. It burned us on Tuesday. But this is a different animal. It’s tough to sweep both games in Florida on a trip there. Couple that with Florida’s quiet focus on being a top team and getting off to a great start to the season, and it seems like this might be too tall a task for the Penguins. They will keep it close though. Call it Panthers 3, Penguins 2.
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