NHL Game for Friday: Winnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins
A pair of legitimate Stanley Cup hopefuls will be looking to pick up a statement-making victory when Sidney Crosby and the incendiary Pittsburgh Penguins host Blake Wheeler and the Winnipeg Jets in an intriguing pairing on Friday night.
If you want to know whether Pittsburgh can extend its winning ways or whether the Jets are the pick to get the road upset, then let’s get to our expert NHL pick for Friday night right now.
There are some good reasons to back Winnipeg in this contest with the Jets winning three of their last five and seven of 10 overall, including their 4-3 win over Edmonton on Monday that snapped a modest two-game losing streak. Brendan Lemieux scored a pair of goals after scoring just twice in 31 games.
“It felt great. It’s good to be a difference-maker,” Lemieux said. “I thought our line played really well tonight. That was the first time we’ve had that dynamic with (Andrew Copp) in the middle and (Jack Roslovic) on the wing. I loved our game. There was some stuff we could clean up, but I was really happy with our line.”
Brandon Tanev and Blake Wheeler also scored in the win to help the Jets cap off the 2018 calendar year in style. The Jets rank a stellar seventh in scoring (3.4 gpg) while also ranking 10th in goals allowed (2.8 gpg).
There are several good reasons to back Pittsburgh in this contest, starting with the fact that the Penguins are on fire right now, having won seven straight and nine of their last 10 matches overall including their emphatic 7-2 smackdown of the Rangers on Wednesday that I predicted in the YouWager NHL sportsbook on Monday. Matt Murray stopped 28 shots while Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin both added one goal and one assist in the win.
“There’s nothing really game-changing you can do. It’s just about doing the little things harder and better,” said Murray, who improved to 6-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average in six games since Dec. 15.
Pittsburgh ranks a stellar fifth in scoring (3.5 gpg) while also ranking a modest 13th in goals allowed (2.9 gpg).
You might not know it, but the Winnipeg Jets were my preseason pick to represent the Western Conference in this season’s Stanley Cup and I certainly still believe that could happen. However, for this Friday night showdown, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the pick simply because they’re playing at home and clearly playing their best hockey of the season at both ends of the ice.
I know Winnipeg has gone an outstanding 8-1 in their last nine road games and an unblemished 5-0 in their last 5 road games against a team with a winning home record, but Pittsburgh has gone 7-0 in their last seven, 8-2 in their last 10 games against teams from the Central Division and a robust 20-6 in their last 26 games against teams from the Western Conference.
With the home team in this series going 6-2 in the last eight meetings and Pittsburgh going an insane 26-4 in their last 30 home dates against the Jets, I say keep it simple and back Sid the Kid and the Pens to get it done in a thriller!
Predicted Score: Winnipeg Jets 3 | Pittsburgh Penguins 4
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