2011 NHL Hockey Free Playoff Predictions: Lightning vs Penguins
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011 Game One
Wednesday April 13, 2011 – 7:00 PM ET
Venue: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins
Betting Lines From Bodog.com
Money Line: Pittsburgh -150
CLICK HERE FOR our LIVE NHL ATS Betting Stats For This Game —>
CANADIAN? CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT BODOG.CA SPORTSBOOK —–>
Now in their second year removed from a Stanley Cup championship, the Pittsburgh Penguins will help open the 2011 NHL playoffs at the Consol Energy Center without their top two superstars and team captain. Evgeni Malkin is out indefinitely and won’t be available this postseason, but there is a chance that Sidney Crosby could return to the ice later in the series if the available Penguins can find a way to win a couple of games without one of the best players in the league in their lineup.
That won’t be easy for a Pittsburgh team that finished the year 26th in third-period scoring. Players like Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy will continue to be relied on as top contributors after playing secondary roles during the Penguins’ two Stanley Cup final runs in 2008 and 2009, and although they performed well down the stretch things will become much tighter in the postseason.
Goals will be tough to come by against a Lightning team that has improved dramatically in its own end, which has to do in big part with their acquisition of a veteran netminder between the pipes. It’s not often that a team’s goaltender is older than their coach, but Dwayne Roloson has been the consistent at the back end that Tampa Bay has lacked over the years, including winning four of his final five games with no more than two goals against in any of those victories. The Lightning like the matchup with Roloson against Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, especially given how inconsistent he has been throughout the season.
The difference for the series opener will be offensive depth, as the Lightning forwards come together to make like miserable for Fleury. Steven Stamkos developed chemistry with Ryan Malone late in the year after sparkplug Martin St. Louis was pushed up to join Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne on the top line. That move gave head coach Guy Boucher two solid scoring lines, which will make Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma choose which trio he wants to match his best defensive line against. There will be a lot of pressure on the Penguins to perform with Crosby and Malkin in front of the home crowd in game one, and in the end it will be too tall of a task as Tampa Bay takes the opener.
Hey! I wanna tell you something! Our “IN-HOUSE” Sports capper Ray “The Razor” Monohan is on FIRE with his NHL Picks over the last 30 days! Wanna make some $$$$ betting on NHL games? Check out Ray’s plays today! The #1 NHL Capper In The World! NHL Top Plays (+915) 9-0 L9 100% Run!