After a solid start to the new National Hockey League campaign, the Vancouver Canucks are now fourth in the Pacific Division. The hosts have lost two on the spin since winning four in a row at the end of October and another difficult fixture lies ahead here. As Stanley Cup title holders and a 9/1 shot with Bet365 for 2018, the Pittsburgh Penguins will expect to challenge once again but they must respond after a poor start to the season.
Vancouver are far from the finished article and they are still hunting a maiden Stanley Cup victory. Head coach Travis Green knows that his franchise is a work in progress and it would be hard to demand instant success. For Pittsburgh, anything less than another title defence this year will be viewed as a disappointment.
Given time, Vancouver may blossom into an elite NHL franchise but for now, the Canucks will have to be content with competing for divisional glory. On paper, they have enough star quality to challenge for the Stanley Cup at some point in the near future – backing against the Canadian side would be foolish on current form.
With six wins from 12 NHL outings, Vancouver have had a respectable start to the new year and plenty of punters will be backing the Canucks to go all the way in the coming months. In terms of star talent, they aren’t blessed with major household names across the board but a few of Vancouver’s most prominent characters are arguably up there with the best in the business – Daniel Sedin, as mentioned below, is just one of those.
KEY MAN: Daniel Sedin. With two goals and three assists so far this season, Sedin isn’t one of the leading points scorers in the division but his quality deserves respect. Consistency is key to success in this game and National Hockey League fans will be expecting big things from Sedin in the coming months. In his career, he has racked up over 990 points in 1,237 games – an impressive return to say the least.
Three defeats in their last four games has left Pittsburgh reeling and the Penguins will be determined to bounce back and put a solid run of form together in the near future. It is hard to back Pittsburgh on current form but if anyone is capable of overcoming adversity, it is the defending champions. Nothing is a given in hockey’s primary division but Pittsburgh should be good enough to win this one.
At the time of writing, Pittsburgh have a 8-5-2 record for the 2017 season and it would take a brave man to back against the Penguins despite their indifferent start. It won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination but Pittsburgh should have enough to pick up the win.
KEY MAN: Sidney Crosby. Crosby has been Pittsburgh’s leader for the best part of a decade – he was the first overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. If Crosby plays well, the Penguins tend to emerge victorious and they will be expecting him to perform well this weekend. If he is at his influential best, Pittsburgh should find plenty of joy in attacking areas with Crosby in full motion.
The Canucks could shock us all this weekend but Vancouver will need everything to go their way in order to oust Pittsburgh. Should Pittsburgh find their best form, this one could get away from the hosts quickly – it certainly won’t be easy either way. Calling this fixture is tough but we’ll go with a slender win for the defending champions.
CANUCKS 2-4 PENGUINS