St Louis (0-0-0) at Pittsburgh (0-0-0)
When: Wednesday, October 4th 2017
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC Sports Network
Opening Odds: Pittsburgh -185/5.5
The Pittsburgh Penguins became the first team in 19 years to repeat as Stanley Cup championships since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 when they knocked-off the upstart Nashville Predators last June. Sidney Crosby and his teammates will raise the fifth championship banner in franchise history to the rafters Wednesday night before taking on the visiting St. Louis Blues on opening night. Pittsburgh lost a lot of good players in the offseason but still has captain Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as it sets its sights set on winning three straight Cups – a feat not achieved since the New York Islanders captured four straight championships from 1980-83. The postseason has been a year ritual for St. Louis, which has made six consecutive trips to the playoffs but has advanced to the conference finals only once in that span. The Blues, who feature an elite scorer of their own in Vladimir Tarasenko, will hope to continue the momentum they generated last season after Mike Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock behind the bench. Pittsburgh and St. Louis have split the two-game series in each of the past three seasons.
St. Louis went 22-8-2 after Yeo took over and finished the regular season on a 15-2-2 run, led by the defense during a 15-game stretch in which it did not allow more than three goals. Tarasenko has recorded 116 goals over the past three seasons and Patrik Berglund was the only other player on the roster to surpass 20, so the Blues attempted to address the scoring issue by acquiring Brayden Schenn from Philadelphia, who scored 25 times while tying for the league lead with 17 power-play goals last season. Captain Alex Pietrangelo, coming off a career-best 14 goals, leads a solid defensive but the biggest key for St. Louis is in net. Jake Allen was so bad that he did not accompany the team on a road trip early in the season but posted a 1.85 goals-against average under Yeo. The Blues will be without injured forwards Alexander Steen and Berglund as well as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
Crosby led the league in goals (44) and tied for second in scoring (89 points) while second-line center Malkin recorded 72 points in 62 games, but the offense doesn’t stop there. Phil Kessel and Conor Sheary scored 23 apiece, Patric Hornqvist chipped in 21 and rookie Jake Guentzel contributed 16 before a spectacular postseason in which he led all scorers with 13 goals in 25 games. Justin Schultz had 12 goals and 51 points for a Pittsburgh defense that will see the return of standout Kris Letang, who appeared in only 41 games last season and missed the playoffs after undergoing neck surgery. Goaltender Matt Murray has appeared in only 62 regular-season games, but he’s 22-9 with a 1.95 goals-against average in two Stanley Cup title runs. The Penguins acquired D Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round pick from Vancouver on Tuesday in exchange for D Derrick Pouliot.
Pittsburgh obviously has the better team, but there’s going to be a lot of distractions and emotion in the building with the banner ceremony. This Blues team plays good enough defense to squeak out a win here. I like the odds. Check back every day this season for our Free NHL Pick each and every morning.
Pick: Blues +166
- Blues are 4-1 in their last 5 vs. Metropolitan.
- Blues are 8-2 in their last 10 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Blues are 8-3 in their last 11 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Blues are 12-5 in their last 17 road games.
- Blues are 21-9 in their last 30 overall.
- Blues are 38-18 in their last 56 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Penguins are 4-1 in their last 5 Wednesday games.
- Penguins are 39-12 in their last 51 home games.
- Penguins are 6-2 in their last 8 games following a home loss of 3 or more goals.
- Penguins are 42-15 in their last 57 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Penguins are 22-8 in their last 30 games following a loss of 3 or more goals.
- Penguins are 19-7 in their last 26 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Penguins are 5-2 in their last 7 overall.
- Under is 6-1 in Blues last 7 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Under is 5-1 in Blues last 6 road games.
- Under is 5-1 in Blues last 6 Wednesday games.
- Over is 3-1-1 in Blues last 5 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Under is 16-6-4 in Blues last 26 overall.
- Under is 24-11-4 in Blues last 39 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Over is 8-1-1 in Penguins last 10 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Under is 5-1-1 in Penguins last 7 Wednesday games.
- Over is 3-1-1 in Penguins last 5 home games.
- Under is 12-5-2 in Penguins last 19 following a home loss of 3 or more goals.
- Over is 7-3-2 in Penguins last 12 following a loss of 3 or more goals.
- Under is 5-1-3 in the last 9 meetings in Pittsburgh.
- Blues are 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Pittsburgh.
- Under is 11-4-4 in the last 19 meetings.
- Road team is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.
Trends courtesy of SportsOptions.com – an UltimateCapper.com partner