There’s obviously a lot of hockey yet to be played in the 2022/23 season, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are digging themselves an early hole at just 7-7-3 and already 11 points behind the red-hot Devils.
Pittsburgh has picked up points in four of the last five, though, and seem to be moving in the right direction.
The Penguins have a tough test on Saturday night on the road at the Winnipeg Jets (10-4-1), who have won two in a row and are 6-1 on their own ice this season.
The Jets have won five of their last six and are looking to break a personal skid of losing four of their last five at home to Pittsburgh. That’s a big reason Winnipeg is +102 at the Canada Life Centre Saturday night.
Penguins Offense Dialed In
Pittsburgh seems to have found a pretty solid formula – if you score, you do good. The Penguins have tallied 4+ goals in four of their past five games, picking up points in each of those contests (3-1-1).
The Penguins’ current stretch includes a 6-4 win in Minnesota on Thursday night and getting a 4-2 win in Toronto last Friday as a +136 underdog.
Pittsburgh has compiled a top-five offense through the first month of the season (3.6 goals/game), unsurprisingly led by Sidney Crosby, who has four goals and five assists in his last six games.
Winnipeg’s defense is second in the NHL in goals allowed (2.3), so the Penguins may not get to that magic four score number here.
Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry have been alternating in net the past week, which would mean DeSmith is up as he’s posted a 2.75 GAA this month.
Hellebuyck the X-Factor
Crosby and the high-flying Penguins offense come to Winnipeg on Saturday night, which means the pressure is on the Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck in this spot. He’s been up to the task with two goals or less allowed in five of his last six starts, but oddsmakers still have this O/U at 6.5.
The good news is that even if Hellebuyck slips up a bit like he did with three goals allowed in the 3-2 loss to Calgary last Saturday, he should have some offensive help.
Pittsburgh has surrendered 14 goals in their last three games, and Jets’ players Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor have combined for seven goals and nine assists over the last five games.
Penguins at Jets Pick and Prediction
It’s hard to lay the -120 on Pittsburgh in this spot. Sure the Penguins have a solid offense, but their defense is shaky, and they are just 4-5-2 on the road this season.
The Jets have won five of their last six, have just one home loss so far (a 4-1 defeat to Toronto as +147 underdogs, have a red-hot Scheifele and Connor to counter Crosby’s scoring and are well rested after playing just one game this week, a 3-2 win over Anaheim on Thursday.
Pick: Winnipeg +102