Pretend, for a moment, you are employed in the NHL’s scheduling department or are a television programming network executive.
You have a relatively early season game involving the reigning Eastern Conference champions and one of the league’s preeminent powers for more than a decade.
You expect the building will be sold out. You expect that households in those markets will be tuned into the game.
That, theoretically, was the belief about the Penguins-Panthers matchup in today’s NHL games.
Instead, the teams enter the game residing in significantly different strata. Florida is in second place in the Atlantic Division, five points behind Boston. But Pittsburgh, for whom much was expected, is seventh in the eight-team Metropolitan Division. Moreover, the Penguins’ 25 points is tied for 13th in the East (with New Jersey and Montreal) and rank 26th in the league (with New Jersey, Montreal, and Calgary).
Penguins vs Panthers Best Bets
The Florida Panthers are a -160 moneyline favorite entering the game.
And while predicting the final score in tonight’s NHL game is a difficult task, it is likely that the Panthers will skate off with two points.
And there are reasons to believe in the Panthers and to look at the Pittsburgh Penguins skeptically.
Let’s start with Pittsburgh.
NHL betting fans saw the Penguins lose 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night. It was their seventh loss in their last 10 games, and one of the overriding issues for the Penguins has been a shockingly inept power play.
Pittsburgh went 0-for-4 on the man advantage against the Lightning, and have not scored on its last 34 power plays despite having Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Erik Karlsson, and Kris Letang –among others– on their man up units.
Over the course of the season, Pittsburgh’s 9.9% conversion rate on the power play is third-worst in the NHL.
What’s the problem?
“We’re still working on the power play,” Malkin told Taylor Haase of DKPittsburghSports.com
after the loss. “I don’t know what words to say right now.”
To summarize: What was expected to be a strength for the Penguins has been a significant weakness.
And now, they are calling on an opponent who has killed 80.2% of power plays against.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 7, 2023
Benefitting a Paul Maurice squad, the Panthers enter the game having surrendered only 65 goals, which is tied with Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers, and Winnipeg for fourth-fewest in the league. Moreover, Florida’s 2.60 goals allowed per game average is tied with Pittsburgh for fourth-fewest in the league in that statistical category.
Offensively, the Panthers’ 18.5% conversion rate on the power play ranks 22nd in the league and their 3.08 goals per game average is 20th in the NHL. So, no, they’re not 1980s Edmonton Oilers. But that should be more than enough to beat a Penguins team that is in flux.
NHL Pick: Florida Panthers -160
Penguins vs Panthers Betting Lines
Penguins vs Panthers Game Information
- Game: Penguins (11-11-3) vs Panthers (15-8-2).
- Location: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise, FL
- Day/Time: Friday, Dec. 8, 7:00 P.M. ET
- Penguins vs Panthers Live Stream: NHL.com
Questions Of The Day
Which NHL team is underrated by the odds to win the season?
Despite coming off a wholly unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring, Florida entered this season +1600 on the moneyline to win the Stanley Cup even though the Panthers have a strong defense, solid goaltending, quality forwards, and experienced coaching.
What is a key factor to know to place a goal-scoring bet on NHL games?
A player’s short-term history (think last 10 games) as well as their career numbers against an opponent.