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Penguins May Not Need Crosby, Malkin As They Clash With

Posted by Don Melrose on 4/30/2013 7:41:10 PM

Only the Washington Capitals finished the regular season hotter than the Pittsburgh Penguins, but considering the 15-point difference between them in the sports betting standings and the fact that both captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin weren’t in the lineup, the Penguins have to be feeling pretty good heading in to the playoffs. There has been talk about whether or not head coach Dan Bylsma will bring Crosby and Malkin back for the opening round, but considering the way that Pittsburgh is playing right now, it might not even matter.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal – Best of 7
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (8) New York Islanders

The Penguins won eight of their final 10 games without Crosby and Malkin, and were still the highest-scoring team in the NHL when it was all said and done. The fact that Crosby led the league in scoring until the final week of the regular season despite missing more than a month of action is scary, but the additions of Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, and Jussi Jokinen injected some life in to the offense and they consistently found ways to put up big offensive numbers.

The NHL’s second-ranked power play has been a big part of that all year, and will be even better if Pittsburgh can finally ice a full roster with Crosby and Malkin back. Islanders’ fans celebrated a return to the postseason with captain John Tavares emerging as a legitimate Hart trophy candidate, but the fact that New York lost three-straight online sportsbook games to close out the year despite trying to avoid a first round date with the Penguins should be cause for concern. Pittsburgh will be on a mission to take care of business as quickly and cleanly as possible, to avoid any further injuries and to give its stars time to rest for the next round.

NHL Betting Pick: Penguins In Four

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal – Best of 7
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs must have been looking forward to a date with their Original Six rivals, only the Montreal Canadiens and not a Bruins’ team that has dominated them in recent years. Toronto did manage to take three of four points from Boston late in the regular season, but winning four playoff games in a best-of-seven could be a lot to ask for a Maple Leafs’ team that took a major step forward this year by making the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

Toronto will play the Bruins hard, but they lack the same level of experience and skill to take on a team that has its eyes set on a potential online betting showdown with the Penguins in the next round. That will provide Boston with a sense of urgency as it looks to take care of business as quickly as possible, which isn’t a good thing for Maple Leafs’ fans that may have waited nine years for two playoff games.

NHL Betting Pick: Bruins in Five

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