The Pittsburgh Penguins are stacked offensively. They’ve got sniper and finisher and sniper and finisher. From Sid the Kid to Geno, from Phil to Horny. The Pens have enough firepower to make another Stanley Cup playoff run. The only problem? They give up goals. After the Montreal Canadiens got shut out in back-to-back games, they managed to score three on the Penguins, who ended up winning the Wednesday night matchup 5-3.
2018 NHL Penguins Playoff Advice
But this latest Penguins win is a prime example of how this team is going to have to win in the postseason. Pitt has been up the most goals of any team currently holding down an NHL playoff spot. In fact, the ninth and tenth place teams have been stingier than the Pens. It’s why the latest hockey odds have the Penguins at 17 to 2 to win the cup, trailing several teams, including the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
Now part of this can be attributed to the fact that starting goaltender Matt Murray has missed significant portions of the season, and backups Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry are both rookies. But playoff hockey is all about playing good defense and winning low-scoring games. Can Pittsburgh do it this year? It remains to be seen.
MacKinnon the trendy Hart Trophy winner
Much to the surprise of everyone, the Colorado Avalanche has been competitive this season. They haven’t faded down the stretch and currently still hold a playoff spot in the Western Conference. A big reason why is Avs all-world player Nathan MacKinnon. The Nova Scotia, Canada native is having a career year, currently sitting third in the NHL’s scoring race.
A lot was made of MacKinnon when he was a top pick a few years ago. Everyone assumed that he would be he next Sidney Crosby, who is also from the same Canadian province. While MacKinnon was always a solid player, he has finally lived up to his billing this season. With a 100-point season within his sights and the expectations so low on the Avs heading into the season, MacKinnon, who has amassed the most points in the league since November, has now started to garner the bulk of the Hart Trophy (for league MVP) talk.
Personally, I believe that MacKinnon is in the mix. But points leader Nikita Kucherov, Taylor Hall of the Devils and possibly Claude Giroux of the Flyers are all viable MVP candidates. Let’s see what happens over the final 10 games.
Matthew Ross is a radio host on TSN 690 in Montreal, Canada, and a contributor to ESPN Radio 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow @MatthewWords