Pittsburgh Penguins (29-14-8) at Calgary Flames (29-20-3)
|Date & Time||Friday February 6, 2015, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Calgary Flames +109 / Pittsburgh Penguins -120 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
The Pittsburgh Penguins certainly are happy to have Evgeni Malkin back in their lineup and Wednesday night in Edmonton the winger helped the club get back into first place in the Metropolitan Division. It has been very much an up and down season for the Penguins this year with all the injuries they’ve had to endure, but getting Malkin healthy and ready for the stretch run is the biggest addition this club could get. After a scoreless first period it was Malkin crashing the front of the net for his 20th goal of the season to get the Penguins on the board for good. Late in the period it was a similar play with David Perron getting his 12th of the year in a game that didn’t have much offense. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 22 shots he faced to pick up his league leading seventh shut out of the season. Miraculously Pittsburgh finds themselves leading the Metropolitan Division and that’s something that should be important to this club because they do not seem like they match up with either the New York Islanders or the New York Rangers. Avoiding those potential match ups might be one of the most important things for the Penguins coming down the stretch if they want to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup this season. Fleury still needs to prove that his regular season game can translate to the post season but his play right now has been encouraging. Now the Penguins just need Sidney Crosby to start being the player they know he’s capable of being and they should be in good shape.
It’ll be a stiff test for the Penguins on Friday night as they travel to Calgary to take on a Flames club that is 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, has won three straight overall, and finds themselves occupying a playoff position in the Western Conference as they’ve moved into second place in the Pacific Division standings. Nobody saw this coming this season for the Flames, especially considering the level of competition in their conference and division. Calgary has been playing some excellent hockey however and they’re taking advantage of the fact that the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings have really struggled with consistency this season. Wednesday night the Flames hosted the San Jose Sharks and used a strong second period to come away with the victory. Kris Russel opened the scoring with his first goal of the season, Jiri Hudler converted on the power play, and Mason Raymond added his 8th of the year for give the Flames a three goal lead in a game they would go on to win 3-1. Right now the Flames just need to find a way to keep this type of play up down the stretch. Their competition hasn’t shown much for most of the season but those clubs also have more experience in a playoff race than this young group does. Goaltending was supposed to be a big problem for the Flames this year but it has been better than most expected. A match up with the Penguins on Friday night should be a good test.
Pittsburgh is the slight favorite in this one but it’s Calgary that has been playing the better hockey of late. Getting the Flames at home in this one at plus money with the way that they’ve been playing is a good opportunity.