Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0)
October 12, 2021 7:30 pm EDT
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -186 / Pittsburgh Penguins +155; Over/Under: 6
(Click here for latest betting odds)
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning meet Tuesday in NHL action at the Amalie Arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off a 37-win season and have made the playoffs in each of the last 15 years. The Tampa Bay Lightning are back-to-back champions and look for the first repeat since the 1980s New York Islanders, when they won four straight titles.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a few question marks entering the season, but a trio of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin is enough to put them in a contender conversation. The main concern for the Penguins is goaltending, as Tristan Jarry didn’t look good in the playoffs and returning Casey DeSmith doesn’t add any depth at the position. In six playoff games last year, Jarry allowed 21 goals and had an 88.8 percent save percentage. The Penguins need a better effort if they’re going to make a deeper playoff run. The Penguins are also counting on the health of Malkin and an aging Jeff Carter who will play his first full season in Pittsburgh. It also can’t be ignored the Penguins lost Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev this offseason. Still, the Penguins should be a factor in the Metropolitan division and will be a tough out as long as the play improves in net.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a strong contender to win yet another title, as a core of Andrei Vasileskiy, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and a full season of Nikita Kucherov is as good as it gets. If you want to poke holes in the Lightning this season, they did lose four key pieces in Tyler Johnson, Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman. Those guys were dominant when on the ice together, and now they’re all gone. It’s also no coincidence that a team hasn’t won three straight titles in 40 years. This group has played a ton of hockey over the years, the grind eventually takes its toll, and it’s not easy to play every night with the target on your back. Playoffs are a sure thing for the Lightning, but the lost depth in this off season could be the reason why we see a different team win the cup this year.
The Penguins are 6-1 in their last 7 games playing on 2 days rest and 27-13 in their last 40 overall. The Lightning are 51-19 in their last 70 home games and 96-44 in their last 140 overall. The over is 4-1 in Penguins last 5 road games. The under is 11-5-3 in Lightning last 19 overall. The Penguins are 0-5 in the last 5 meetings in Tampa Bay and 0-4 in the last 4 meetings.
I’m not thrilled about starting the season off with a chalk play, but the home team has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the Penguins and Lightning. That means something when you consider it’s a celebration night for the Lightning. Also, the Penguins are still not at full strength with Crosby and Malkin sidelined with injuries. Jake Guentzel is also questionable for this contest after testing positive with COVID. The Lightning are pretty much 100 percent healthy and that gives them a serious edge in this opener. I’ll lay the juice.