The Pittsburgh Penguins will be quietly confident of securing another Metropolitan Division crown in the coming months. Currently second in what is arguably the most competitive of the four NHL divisions, Pittsburgh could be on the verge of something very special indeed.
Pittsburgh were crowned Stanley Cup champions in 2016 and 2017 but the Penguins failed in their pursuit of a third successive title – falling to the Washington Capitals in the second round of the playoffs. A return to the NHL showpiece series beckons if Pittsburgh carry on building momentum…
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators have gone backwards in 2018/19. With just 19 wins from their 50 regular season fixtures, Ottawa look destined to finish at the foot of the Atlantic Division. No playoff hockey for the third time in four years beckons unless the Senators are able to mount a phenomenal comeback.
With a goals for/against differential of -31, the Senators have been embarrassed on more than one occasion this year. Ottawa will be hoping to avoid a good hiding this weekend but the omens are against them: the Canadian outfit have lost two on the spin.
Despite their continued struggles, Ottawa have won their last two NHL games against the Penguins – both coming earlier this season. With that in mind, backing against the visitors may be foolish. Let’s take a closer look at both teams ahead of this weekend’s clash…
Event Date: 2 February, 2019
Penguins Looking Strong As Business End Of Season Approaches
Pittsburgh usually turn on the style at this stage of the campaign. Mike Sullivan is one of the best head coaches in the National Hockey League and you won’t find too many punters going against the Penguins here.
Just four points separate the top four teams in the Metropolitan Division but Pittsburgh have the knowledge and experience to pip their rivals to top spot ahead of the playoffs. A win here is an absolute must – dropping points would be unacceptable.
The Penguins handed Tampa Bay their 11th defeat of the campaign last time out and that result will give Pittsburgh confidence ahead of this weekend. Sullivan will have his troops fired up and ready to go ahead of what should be a routine home fixture.
Should Senators Start Focusing On Next Season?
With Ottawa’s hopes of clinching a playoff berth getting shorter by the day, the Senators may decide to focus on the 2019/20 campaign. Securing a good NHL Draft pick may be the top priority if Ottawa continue to slip down the postseason pecking order.
The Canadian outfit have acquired just 43 points through 50 regular season games – the worst record in the NHL. Punters will be backing Ottawa to end the year as the lowest-ranked team but that will give them the number one overall pick ahead of next season.
Putting too much faith in Ottawa at this moment in time would be unwise. Yes, they have enjoyed recent success against their opponents but the Senators are just too inconsistent. It will take a minor miracle for Ottawa to leave Pittsburgh with the win this weekend.
On paper, this one looks straightforward. NHL games never usually pan out that way though and Pittsburgh will need to be on top form to avoid an embarrassing slip-up. Ottawa have nothing to lose and Canadian fans will expect the Senators to adopt an aggressive approach.
The Penguins should prove too strong for their opponents here – expect a fairly routine win for the hosts. An early Ottawa goal could put the cat amongst the pigeons but all signs point towards a comfortable night for Pittsburgh.
TIP: Pittsburgh Penguins to win
CORRECT SCORE: Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 Ottawa Senators