The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, are set to kickstart the 2021 NHL season as they collide at Amelia Arena in Tampa Bay. The Lightning is aiming to become the first three-time Stanley Cup winners in almost forty years, while the Penguins, the former two-time Stanley Cup champions (2016-2017) hope to return to the winner’s circle again.
The broad spectrum aside, things are setting up rather interestingly with bookmakers tipping this game in Tampa Bay’s corner quite significantly, Tampa Bay is the defending champion, so the market is understandable from that perspective.
However, Tampa Bay’s NHL odds are emboldened by the fact that the Penguins are dealing with legitimate question marks. In the absence of Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and Jake Guentzel for this season-opener, the Lightning appears to have a decided advantage over the Penguins. Hence, the odds are stacked up against the Penguins.
We preview this scintillating matchup between early Eastern Conference playoff contenders and serve-up choice betting picks.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Tuesday, October 12, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Amelia Arena
Penguins Look To Overcome Adversity
The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off a solid 2020-21 campaign in which they finished with a 37-16-3 mark and clinched the East Division title. At one point, midway through the season, the Penguins were trailing behind the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders and Boston Bruins in the standings, but they raised their level down the stretch and leapfrogged their rivals to the top of the table.
The strong finish to the season was comprised of an 8-2-0 record in their last ten games, a run of form which included a three-game winning streak.
The manner in which they closed the regular season raised expectations in the playoffs, but those didn’t come to fruition. The New York Islanders upset the Penguins in the first round, sending Sidney Crosby and Company packing in six games. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise solid campaign.
Going into 2021, the Penguins are amongst the top bets to win the Stanley Cup and priced just inside the Top 10. In fact, they’re the tenth-best bet priced at a tempting +2400 to clinch the coveted NHL title. For this season-opening game, the Penguins are priced just above +200 across multiple sports betting platforms.
The Penguins open against the Lightning, and then they face the Florida Panthers before returning on Saturday for a season-home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sidney Crosby practiced this week with the Penguins, along with Jake Guentzel, but they’ve been ruled out of Pittsburgh’s two-game Florida road trip to open the season. As well, forward Zach Aston-Reese is ruled out of tonight’s game, while Radim Zahorna was sent to Wilkes-Barre today. Evgeny Malkin’s injury is expected to see him out for an expected period – November is the earliest expected return date.
Tampa Bay Looks To Kick Title Defense in Winning Style
The Tampa Bay Lightning will be pumped for their season home-opener tonight. The Lightning is amongst the top favorites to win the Stanley Cup, albeit they’re the oddsmakers' second-favorite after the Colorado Avalanche. As per BetOnline (visit out BetOnline Review), the Lightning are tipped at +700 while the Avalanche is priced at +400.
Tampa Bay was forced to bid adieu to a number of players, including Yanni Gourde, Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman. However, through savvy wheeling and dealing they’ve kept their elite players together for another crack at the Stanley Cup. They’ve kept standout goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. As well, captain Steven Stamkos returns for another hurrah, along with the charismatic Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman, to name a few.
On paper, the Lightning has quite the significant edge over the Penguins, who are coming to Amelie Arena shorthanded and missing their elite players. Without Crosby and Malkin in the line-up, it’s hard to imagine Pittsburgh serving up an upset over Tampa Bay on the first day of the NHL season.
Even if the Bolts are slow out of the gates, they have arguably the best goalie in the league to lean on. So long as the 27-year-old Russian is in top form, he can bail them out of practically anything. He was one of the stingiest goaltenders last season.
So, it’s really not surprising that the Penguins are at the disadvantage for this game in NHL betting markets as the Lightning should win at home. However, with the NHL odds ranging around -250 on the moneyline for Tampa Bay, betting on the puck-line offers better angles for profiting and therefore the preferred NHL pick.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.