New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Devils and Penguins will play the final game for a three-game series on Sunday afternoon except this game will be held in Pittsburgh instead of New Jersey where the previous two were held. The Devils took the first game 3-2 but the Penguins won the recent game 3-2. With the final game of the series having much importance for both teams, we can expect a close and exciting game as a result.

Devils are struggling defensively this year

The Devils win on Thursday night felt more like an outlier as the team has played poorly the entire season winning only 10 of their first 27 games. Moreover, the recent win felt odd as the Devils only held the Penguins to one goal despite their defense allowing 3 goals per game. While Dmitri Kulikov and Ty Smith have combined for 2.1 defensive point shares, the rest of the unit has struggled and Mackenzie Blackwood has struggled as the starting goalie, allowing 3 goals a game.

In addition to the struggling defense, the offense hasn’t played as well this season, scoring 2.5 goals per game. Miles Wood has 9 goals this season while Pavel Zacha and Jack Hughes have 7 goals each but the rest of the team has struggled, leaving the Devils with only a strong top-line but a weak offense overall.

Penguins defense has improved recently

The Pittsburgh Penguins started out this season with a great offense and a struggling defense. However, the past few games have shown how the Penguins have been able to improve on the defensive end and play like a great team overall. The Penguins have been led by Kris Letang and Codi Ceci who have combined for 3.4 defensive point shares but the play by backup goalie Casey DeSmith, who is only allowing 2.2 goals per game has not only helped the team as a whole, it has also allowed Tristan Jarry to split time in the net.

While the defense is only recently stepping up, the offense has helped lead the Penguins all season, scoring 3.1 goals per game. Sidney Crosby has 11 goals and 18 assists to lead the team in points while Jake Geuntzel and Bryan Rust have combined for 22 goals this season. Despite being a defenseman, Kris Letang has also made his mark on the offensive end adding 17 assists to the offense.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

The Devils have proven that they can pull the upset against the Penguins, as they did on Thursday night. However, with the Penguins returning home and looking a significantly better team in recent games, they will likely be in control of the entire game. The Penguins should be able to pile on the goals in this game with Sidney Crosby and Jake Geuntzel constantly creating open shots while Kris Letang creates from the point. In addition, the Devils’ offense is best on odd-man rushes so the Penguins will play disciplined at the blue-line and force the Devils to score in the offensive zone instead. The Penguins should not only win the final game of the series, but they should also be able to cover the spread in a statement victory.

Prediction:
Penguins -1.5 (+114)

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

The last two games went Under with a 3-2 and a 3-1 game, indicating that the final game will also go Under. The Penguins have played better in the recent game but their offense has oddly disappeared. In this game, the Penguins should be able to pile on the goals against the Devils defense which has been terrible all season. Sidney Crosby and Jake Geuntzel should be able to take advantage of the Devils pairings that can get caught napping at the blue line and potentially have a hat trick as a result. Likewise, the Devils should be able to find a few goals in this game with Jack Hughes or Miles Wood breaking through on odd-man rushes. The Over should be able to cover in the final game of the series with both offenses hitting their strides.

Prediction:
Over 5.5