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Penguins Look To Get Back On Track With Crosby As One Of Best Bets For Friday Night

Posted by Don Melrose on 1/29/2015 8:25:28 PM

The Pittsburgh Penguins are now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games without both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup and while they suffered a 4-0 loss with Crosby back against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday there isn’t anybody out there that will argue they are better off without either one of the two. Pittsburgh might be without Malkin for a couple more games but Crosby and company should be motivated to get back in to the win column on Friday. Here is a quick look at the best bets in the NHL for Friday night.

Pittsburgh Penguins @ New Jersey Devils

Friday, 7:00 PM ET

The Penguins were beaten up in nearly every aspect of their 4-0 loss to Washington but they get an excellent opportunity to get back on track against a New Jersey team that only narrowly secured a 2-1 shootout win over the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs coming out of the All-Star break. The Devils don’t have the firepower to keep up with some of the top teams in the Metropolitan division and Pittsburgh has averaged 2.9 goals per game. Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled with consistency over the past month but he shouldn’t face too many difficult chances in this one while Crosby and company score enough to protect him and get back in the win column.

Pick: Pittsburgh

St. Louis Blues @ Carolina Hurricanes

Friday, 7:00 PM ET

The Hurricanes have been singing the blues for some time now but it will get a lot worse if they don’t go on another extended slide that helps them to compete for a top pick. It’s not like the Carolina coaches are going to tell the team to lose on purpose but they simply can’t afford at this stage in the season to upset a team as good as St. Louis. The Blues are in a tough spot competing with Nashville, Chicago, and Winnipeg for the top three spots in the Central division and with a 7-2-1 record over their last 10 games there is no reason to think they will slow down anytime soon.

Pick: St. Louis

Buffalo Sabres @ Vancouver Canucks

Friday, 10:00 PM ET

Vancouver is trying to hold off Calgary and Los Angeles for the third spot in the Pacific division but with a .500 record over their last 10 games it’s pretty obvious they have to get going. The Canucks have struggled to consistently put pucks in the back of the net but they should be able to bounce back from a shutout loss to the Anaheim Ducks when they host a Buffalo team that is in a similar situation to Carolina on Friday. The Sabres would be better off losing and helping to secure a high draft pick for next season while former Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller could get a shot at closing the door on his former team in a must-win game for Vancouver.

Pick: Vancouver

Chicago Blackhawks @ Anaheim Ducks

Friday, 10:00 PM ET

The Blackhawks let a late 3-2 lead get away from them against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday and now they will be in tough to rebound against a very good Anaheim team on Friday. The Ducks returned from the break with a shutout win over the Canucks and while they were forced to visit San Jose the night before they likely had this game circled on their calendar. Corey Crawford has been far too inconsistent for Chicago and he showed his frustrations with a broken stick against Los Angeles. Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau has preached fundamentals and if the Ducks can slow down the Blackhawks attack they should score enough to win this game at home.

Pick: Anaheim

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