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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche prediction and pick. Betting prediction for Saturday's showdown between the Penguins and the Avalanche from handicapper Jason Yamaguchi.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche Prediction: Don't Overlook This Under

Many of the league's best teams will be in action on Saturday, including six of the eight likely playoff teams from the Eastern Conference. One of them, the Pittsburgh Penguins, are traveling to Colorado for a bout with the Avalanche, the team that sits atop the league standings with 102 points. Here's my best bet for the game.

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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche Prediction

At first glance, this matchup would seem ripe for an over bet. These are two of the league's highest-scoring teams—the Avs rank second with 3.77 goals scored per game, while the Penguins rank 10th with 3.3 goals/game. However, the current market number for this game is too high, considering all of the factors that play into whether the value is on the over, the under, or neither.

For starters, this game boasts a goaltending matchup between two high-quality starters. Darcy Kuemper, who rested during Colorado's game on Thursday, will almost certainly start for the Avs. He has been on a tear lately, rising to fifth in the GSAx rankings with 21.1 goals saved above expected. The Penguins, having started backup Casey DeSmith against the Wild on Thursday, should be rolling with Tristan Jarry here. Jarry, like Kuemper, has had an excellent 2021-22 season—he has saved 16.2 goals above expected, good for eighth among all NHL starters.

Much of Colorado's offense has come from their power play this season. The unit has a conversion rate of 25.4%, which ranks fifth in the NHL. However, they have scored the most power play goals—60—of any team. This discrepancy results from the fact that the Avs have been given the most power plays in the league, 19 more than the next highest. Don't count on that pattern continuing against the Penguins. Not only do the Penguins have the NHL's second best penalty kill by virtue of an 85.5% kill rate, but they also take the least penalties per game in the league. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Colorado will be able to lean on their power play to generate the bulk of their offense against Pittsburgh.

There will be some key absences in this game that could push extra value onto the under. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who has 30 goals and 29 assists in 51 games this season, will be out for a few more weeks due to a knee injury. Nazem Kadri, who leads the Avs with 57 assists and 83 points, may also miss the game. The Penguins are healthier, with their only potential absence being forward Jason Zucker. Still, given that one or two top producers will be missing for Colorado, I think this game might be more defense-oriented than most expect.

To be clear: this isn't a bet that I would make if the number was lower. However, it is not. People tend to overlook the defensive capabilities of teams like these because of their offensive firepower, but both squads have been effective at keeping the puck out of their own nets this season. The Penguins rank fourth-best with just 2.59 goals allowed per game, while the Avalanche rank eighth with 2.73. Both squads are elite offensively, yes, but they also have excellent goaltenders and rock-solid defenses. Those facts, combined with Pittsburgh's ability to offset Colorado's greatest offensive strength (their power play) and the injuries plaguing the Avs, make me think that the number is too high. I would price this at about 6 even, so anything above that is worth a bet on the under.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche Prediction

Pick: Penguins/Avalanche Under 6.5 @ -108 (Bet $108 to win $100)

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche Total Movement

Article Author


Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.


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