Pittsburgh Penguins (36-17-9) at Colorado Avalanche (27-25-11)
|Date & Time||Wednesday March 4, 2015, 10:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Colorado Avalanche +122 / Pittsburgh Penguins -135 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been playing some good hockey as of late, and their general manager Jim Rutherford has been busy trying to make his club better for a playoff run. After acquiring Daniel Winnik from the Toronto Maple Leafs last week, Rutherford was working the phones on deadline day and swung a couple of more deals. The Penguins acquired Ian Cole from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Robert Bortuzzo, and in a separate deal received Ben Lovejoy from Anaheim in exchange for Simon Despres. This is a pretty significant overhaul on the blue line and it’s one that Rutherford hopes will help his team moving forward. A lot of people could understand the deal with St. Louis for Cole, but the Despres move left a lot of folks in Pittsburgh shaking their heads. These are going to be important deals for Rutherford because with a goaltender that has been as shaky as Marc-Andre Fluery has been in the post season it’s important to have a strong defense corps in front of him. Regardless of the moves the Penguins head into Wednesday’s contest winners of four straight games. Pittsburgh is just three points behind the division lead, and while they are three points behind the New York Islanders for second place they also have two games in hand. It would behoove the Penguins to find a way to win the Metropolitan Division and avoid facing one of those two clubs because they seem to struggle with both of them. Sunday night the Penguins hosted the Blue Jackets and after allowing the first goal the Penguins dominated from there. Evgeni Malkin’s 25th of the season came just 1:22 after Columbus took the lead and evened the score. David Perron, Malkin, and Derrick Pouliot all scored power play goals in the second period to put the game out of reach. Steve Downie also added a goal for the Penguins in the 5-3 win. Fleury picked up his 29th win of the season while recording 22 saves.
For the Colorado Avalanche it’s all about finishing the season on a positive note. Things have not gone as planned for Patrick Roy in his second season behind the bench, and there will be a lot of questions that need to be answered in the off season. Colorado has spent all year just trying to get something going for an elongated period of time, but it just hasn’t happened. The Avalanche are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and much of the time this season that has been the way things have gone. After a big win in Dallas against the Stars on Friday night they returned to the ice against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and just couldn’t find their game. Maxime Talbot’s fifth goal of the season tied the game early in the second period, but by the middle of the frame the Wild had the lead for good. Talbot was traded to the Boston Bruins on Monday in return for Jordan Caron and a draft pick. Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots in the loss.
Pittsburgh is a slight road favorite in this one and they are due for a loss sometime soon, but the Avalanche have not played well against legitimate competition. Perhaps having the trade deadline over with will calm down some of their younger players, but the Penguins are playing solid hockey and at this price are worth a shot.