Pittsburgh Penguins (7-2-1) at Minnesota Wild (7-3-0)
|Date & Time||Tuesday November 4, 2014, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Minnesota Wild -115 / Pittsburgh Penguins +104 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
The Minnesota Wild have been one of the bigger surprises to start the regular season and what’s most impressive about it is that they’ve done so without their biggest acquisition making any noise. Thomas Vanek finally registered his first goal of the season on Saturday night, a power play marker that increased Minnesota’s lead to 3-1 over the visiting Dallas Stars in the second period. Mikael Granlund, Matt Dumb, and Nino Niederreiter also scored for the Wild who improved to 7-3-0 to start the year. Minnesota has won three straight, five of six, and if it weren’t for allowing five third period goals in New York to the Rangers they’d be on a six game winning streak right now. The Wild have scored at least four goals in five of the six games during this stretch and as mentioned, it has been without the help of Vanek until Saturday night. If the Wild can get Vanek going, and with his track record it would be a good bet that he will, they’re going to be a very difficult opponent to play against on a nightly basis. There’s a lot of depth up and down this lineup right now and while the goaltending appeared to be a question heading into the season it looks like the Wild might have something in Darcy Kuemper. The 6’5’’ twenty four year-old from Saskatoon is a very difficult keeper to beat because there just doesn’t look like there’s anywhere to shoot. Kuemper is now 6-2-0 in eight starts this year with a sparkling 1.62 goals against average and .930 save percentage. Tuesday night’s match up with the Pittsburgh Penguins coming to town should be a great test for this club.
In Pittsburgh it’s clear that Sidney Crosby is operating at full health to start the season and the dynamic center already looks like he’s on his way to another Art Ross Trophy this year. Crosby leads the league with 18 points through Pittsburgh’s first 10 games. Crosby has always been a lethal scoring machine and if he can keep his shooting percentage up this season he could be looking at his second career 40-goal year. The Penguins head into this contest winners of four straight games, outscoring their opponents 19-3 over that span. They’ve recorded three shutouts and put up an eight spot in their win over New Jersey. While the playoffs might be a completely different story for this club, one thing that we know is that in the regular season when they’re healthy they are dominant. Marc-Andre Fleury has absolute meltdowns when the pressure is on, but from October through March he’s usually one of the best goaltenders in the league. Tuesday marks the start of a lengthy five game road trip for the Penguins. Saturday night the Penguins got a virtual night off as they took on the Buffalo Sabres, a club that should probably be competing in the American Hockey League right now. Crosby chipped in three assists, Patric Hornqvist scored his sixth goal of the season, and Chris Kunitz added his seventh as the Penguins cruised to a 5-0 victory.
This is the game of the night on the schedule and something has to give between two clubs that have been racking up wins left and right. Minnesota is a slight favorite at home in this one and this should be a game they really get up for.