Pittsburgh Penguins (39-22-10) at Arizona Coyotes (21-42-8)
|Date & Time||Saturday March 21, 2015, 9:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Arizona Coyotes +201 / Pittsburgh Penguins -225 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
Saturday night might be a make or break game in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season. Despite the fact that it isn’t going to cost them a playoff spot either way, the fact of the matter is that there is absolutely no faith from anyone in this hockey club when it comes to playing in a pressurized situation. Pittsburgh has been an absolute disaster when it matters most in recent years, and right now they’re slumping badly as they head down the stretch. The Penguins are in jeopardy of dropping into a wild card spot now that they are tied at 88 points with the Washington Capitals. That would most likely ensure a first round match up with either the Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs. Not exactly an ideal situation for an organization that is expected to make a lengthy run through the playoffs. Pittsburgh has lost four straight games and five of their last six heading into Saturday’s match up with the Arizona Coyotes. The club ahs scored just two goals during the four straight losses and the only win was a victory on home ice over the Edmonton Oilers. Even that game wasn’t exactly an easy one for the Pens, and with a game against the St. Louis Blues coming up on Tuesday night this is a game they absolutely need to have. Marc-Andre Fleury has not been able to help this club overcome their offensive deficiencies, although he did rebound nicely from his poor showing on Sunday afternoon when he was pulled against Detroit. Fleury allowed just two goals in Dallas against the Stars, but the Penguins once again could not do enough offensively in the 2-1 loss. Kris Letang scored the only goal for the Penguins.
In Arizona the Coyotes continue to freefall and the only thing that’s going to stop it is the end of the season. General manager Don Maloney has done a good job at continuing to stock the prospect pool for the Coyotes as they look to the future, but the odds of that paying off next season are slim. Arizona is going to be extremely young moving forward, and it will be a great opportunity for a lot of these players to learn and grow together on the ice. It also is going to be a very difficult process unless Malone can find a lot of the right veterans to bring in and help mentor them. If the league has learned anything from the Edmonton Oilers it should be that no matter how much young talent an organization might have, it won’t matter one bit if those players don’t learn how to be professionals. It’s also important that Maloney find some defenseman as well as determine whether or not Mike Smith is truly the answer in goal moving forward. Smith was promising when he first came to Arizona, but this season was an absolute disaster for him. While he’s played better at times recently, it hasn’t nearly been enough to get this team in the win column on most nights.
This is one of those games to stay away from on Saturday. With a full slate of games on the schedule it’s hard to justify playing the struggling Penguins at this price. With how frequently Arizona finds ways to lose there’s still only one play here.