Oilers vs Penguins – NHL Pick for October 24th
After a quiet Monday night, the NHL returns with a huge 11-game slate on Tuesday night. Bettors can lick their chops as we still try to navigate the early days of the NHL season. There are plenty of opportunities to make some money on Tuesday night but the most exciting one may be in one of the best matchups of the season so far.
If the playoffs started today the Edmonton Oilers would be on the outside looking in – and it wouldn’t even be close. Luckily for Oiler nation, the playoffs don’t start and the season is still young which means they have time to turn this thing around. It won’t be an easy task on Tuesday night when they travel to Pittsburgh for a date with the Penguins but it would be a huge statement win for the team if they’re able to pull it off. The Pens meanwhile are coming off a brutal 7-1 loss at the hands of the red-hot Lightning and need to bounce back in front of their home crowd. So who has the edge in this pivotal East vs. West matchup? Let’s find out!
- Edmonton Oilers (+136) at Pittsburgh Penguins (-150)
At the start of the season, there would have been many analysts that would have predicted this game as a possible Stanley Cup finals preview. While the Penguins hunt for their third straight Cup, the Oilers are just trying to get a shot. They were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion in Game 7 last season but looked like a team poised to make another deep postseason run thanks to their collection of young talent and youthful experience.
Fast forward to the first couple of weeks of this NHL season and the Oilers are just trying to get back to .500. They’re currently just 2-5 on the season and are second last to the lowly Arizona Coyotes in the powerful Western Conference. Edmonton still has 75 games left to play this season, so pressing the panic button may seem a little premature. With that being said this is a huge opportunity for them to gain some momentum and point their team in the right direction.
The Penguins have had a strange season. They’ve lost two games now by a combined score of 17-2 yet and their goal differential is a brutal -9. This is coming from the highest scoring team in the league last season, so we’ll chalk it up to some early season jitters. They’re still 5-3-1 on the season and sitting in second place in the Metropolitan Division so there’s no real reason to worry just yet.
Edmonton looked like they were going to be a force to be reckoned with when they opened their season with a shutout win on the back of Connor McDavid’s hat-trick. Since then they’ve scored just 11 goals over their last six games and are average 2.00 goals a game for the year. That type of offense won’t be strong enough to compete against the high-flying Penguins. Connor McDavid may be the next best player ever, or already the best player in the NHL – but he still hasn’t scored since his opener and his eight points on the season are well behind the league leaders. The offense can’t solely rely on him to get going, but the reality remains that he’s the engine for this team.
He should have more room on the ice against the Penguins and their free-flowing style, and we fully expect that to translate into some points. McDavid has all the tools necessary to carve up any defense, and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks out of his slump. One of the biggest factors hurting the Oilers is the absence of Leon Draisaitl. The breakout player for the Oilers last year suffered a concussion in his third game and has yet to suit up. He was close to playing on Saturday night and many expect him back for this game against the Penguins. If he does suit up this gives Edmonton a huge boost so be sure to check back closer to game time.
In Pittsburgh, the offense has been hot and cold to start the season. They’ve scored just one goal twice already…but are still averaging 3.33 goals a game. If their averages are any indication of how they bounce back from one-goal games then you can expect this one to be a high scoring affair. The three-headed beast of Sidney Crosby (10), Evgeni Malkin (10) and Phil Kessel (9) are up to their usual tricks with a combined 29 points on the season and we fully expect them to be the three highest scoring teammates this season as long as they can stay healthy.
Both teams have struggled to keep the puck out of their own net, but Pittsburgh has been particularly brutal despite their winning record. The Pens are allowing a ridiculous 4.33 goals a game this season and are coming off a seven-goal beatdown at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ve held their opponents to fewer than three goals in a game just twice this season and now have to go up against arguably the most talented offensive player in hockey.
They are officially dead last in the NHL in goals allowed per game and yet still have a decent record. Can you imagine if they figure out how to get a little stronger in their own end? Kris Letang has been excellent as an offensive defenseman in his return from injury this season, but him, Maatta and the rest of the Penguins defensive core need to spend more time shutting down their opponents.
The Oilers haven’t been much better on defense, allowing 3.14 goals a game. Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell aren’t blocking as many shots as they did last season while Adam Larsson looks like he’s trying to create too much offense for the club with some of their forwards hurting. With McDavid and the rest of the forwards trying to create some more offense, there has been little help along the blueline. Edmonton will need to shape up immediately if they want to slow down the ferocious attack of the Penguins.
There’s simply no explanation for what is going on with Matt Murray. The two-time Stanley Cup winner may just not be used to beginning the season as the starter in net, but he looks downright awful between the pipes at the moment. He’s going to have to shoulder it all too as the Pens just placed Antti Niemi on waivers after his abysmal start to the campaign. Murray is 5-01 on the season…but has a goals-against average of 3.35 and a save percentage of just .896. We expect those numbers to improve eventually, but it will be tough against Edmonton.
The Oilers counter with Cam Talbot who has played a little below average this season but still done enough to keep his team in games. He’s 2-4-0 with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage (both better numbers than Murray).
Sidney Crosby against Connor McDavid. Widely considered the two best players in hockey it’s not often that we get to see them line up against one another. With both their teams coming off losses and McDavid’s struggling to start the year you can bet he’ll be fired up to give Crosby all he has in this battle of juggernauts.
McDavid will score again eventually, and this feels like the perfect breakout game against his idol. When McDavid scores, the Oilers usually win. We’re betting on that Tuesday with how well Edmonton pays. Take the Oil on the moneyline.