NHL Betting: Pittsburgh Penguins To Pick Up a Win In Tampa

Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning

The NHL takes a well earned three-day break after tonight and an intriguing clash between two of the East's best highlights an 11-game slate to sign off.

You'll find contrasting moods between the two locker rooms and it's Tampa in need of festive boost after taking just two of their last eight contests, lose again and I can't imagine they'll be enjoying the taste of their turkey.

Although Pittsburgh were a little slack in a shootout loss to Florida they've dropped just one game in regulation this month and knocked the Lightning off 4-2 last Monday.

One of Mike Johnston's adjustments in his first season as Penguins head coach has been to make them much more proactive on the forecheck, injuries mean they also have plenty of AHL callups in their lineup who know they have to make up for a lack of skill with work rate to make an impact.

When Tampa are short of confidence it's not ideal to face a team who will rush their decision making in the defensive zone much like the NY Islanders did on Saturday when the Bolts generated just 21 shots.

Although this is the second night of a back to back I'm taking Pittsburgh to get it done.


St Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche

St Louis have kept winning in the face of goalie Brian Elliott's injury despite backup Jake Allen and free agent pickup Martin Brodeur not particularly excelling as replacements thanks to the men in front really limiting the number of quality chances they face.

In contrast Colorado have leaned on rookie Calvin Pickard to take eight points from ten, Semyon Varlamov returns between the pipes tonight but overall they cannot match the Blues' depth on defence.

Admittedly Erik Johnson is doing a solid job leading the Avalanche blueline but when they see Kevin Shattenkirk; who went to St Louis as part of the trade for Johnson, second in points amongst defencemen they still might be questioning whether that was the right decision.

Losing Jaden Schwartz to injury last week has deprived the Blues of their leading scorer behind breakout star Vladimir Tarasenko however the Russian's pace shows no sign of slowing with last time out only the second time this month he failed to register at least a point.

When the two clubs met at Pepsi Center 10 days ago TJ Oshie eventually won it for St Louis in overtime after they'd controlled the opening 60 minutes, I'm expecting a similar pattern tonight and although the Avs might be able to get another tie at 3.85 a Blues victory for 2.12 is my pick.

Best Bet: Pittsburgh Penguins to win at 2.85