Blues vs Penguins Picks and Predictions: Numbers Shine Light on Home Pens' Value

The Penguins have been the best team in the NHL over the past six weeks and should have what it takes to slow down the Blues' unsustainable offense. Read more in our NHL betting picks for Blues vs. Penguins.

Jan 5, 2022 • 11:08 ET • 4 min read
Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins NHL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off their convincing Winter Classic victory on Sunday, the St. Louis Blues will look for their eighth win in 10 games Wednesday night in Pennsylvania where the Pittsburgh Penguins and their eight-game winning streak await them.

Can the Blues continue to be the best team in the West (points per game) despite some metrics indicating regression? Can the Penguins continue to climb the Eastern Conference standings with the league’s best point percentage since November 18? Find out in our free picks and predictions for the Blues vs. Penguins.

Blues vs Penguins odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

Pittsburgh opened at -135 on the moneyline with a total of 6 leaning slightly to the Over. That has since moved to -140 and the total sitting at 6 -110 aside. Since Casey DeSMith was announced as the liekly starter, the line has moved back to -135. These two teams haven’t met since the 2019-20 season.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until puck drop and be sure to check out the full NHL odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Blues vs Penguins predictions

Predictions made on 1/5/2022 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Blues vs Penguins game info

Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Date: Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TNT

Blues vs Penguins betting preview

Injuries

Blues: No injuries to report.
Penguins: Jeff Carter F (Out), Evgeni Malkin F (Questionable), Kasperi Kapanen F (Probable), Jason Zucker F (Out), Teddy Blueger F (Probable).

Find our latest NHL injury reports.

Blues vs Penguins head-to-head record (since 2017)

Blues: 5-4 SU, 25 goals for.
Penguins: 4-5 SU, 25 goals for.

Betting trend to know

The Penguins are 11-1 SU in their last 12 games following a win. Find more NHL betting trends for Blues vs. Penguins.

Blues vs Penguins picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

The Pittsburgh Penguins started 2022 on the right foot with a big 8-5 victory over the Sharks Sunday where they scored six first-period goals. The win was their eighth in a row and was accomplished without No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry and forwards Kaspari Kapanen and Teddy Blueger who are all probable Wednesday night after exiting the league’s COVID protocols. Evgeni Malkin was also practicing on Wednesday and is nearing a return. 

Since November 18, the Pittsburgh Penguins have quietly been the best team in hockey with a 13-2-1 record while scoring 3.50 goals per game and allowing just 1.81. This team has been flying under the radar over the last six weeks and owns the league’s No. 1 penalty kill and No. 11 power play. 

What’s even more impressive is that they’ve done this with Jake Guentzel playing just 11 of those 16 games and Bryan Rust playing just five games. Both forwards will be in the lineup tonight and should be flanking Sidney Crosby on the top line.

Even with success riding their coattails, Pittsburgh will be in tough tonight against a Blues team that has lost just once in regulation across its last nine games and is also getting back to full strength after struggling with absences for the majority of the season. Since returning to action, the Blues have beaten the Oilers on home ice by a score of 4-2, followed by the outdoor victory against the Wild where the Blues showed off an offense that's scoring 3.73 goals per game since December 1. 

There could be some regression coming for the Blues, however, and with some league-average goaltending in Jordan Binnington, the Blues may be playing above expectations of late. For starters, they own 53 percent goal% but have a 47 percent xgoal% which ranks in the Bottom 10. They allow high-danger and medium-danger chances at a Top-10 rate and have Corsi and Fenwick percentages below 50%. Their -7.05 xgoal differential ranks between the Kraken and Blackhawks. The Blues have been winning but it will likely be unsustainable.

This is in sharp contrast to the way the Penguins have been playing this season — and at many times with a wounded roster. The Pens sit third in xgoal% (fifth in goal%) and are Top 5 in both Corsi and Fenwick percentages. Of these two teams, Pittsburgh is more likely to continue their current success and getting Tristan Jarry back in net is another advantage for the home team Wednesday but it looks like Mike Sullivan will go with Casey DeSmith for one more game and start Jarry tomorrow. Jarry was removed from COVID protocol on Tuesday.

DeSmith has won three straight starts including a 33-save shutout versus the Ducks prior to the break. He did allow five goals to the Sharks on Sunday but with Pittsburgh jumping out to a 6-1 first-period lead, it's tough to judge the performance. We'd love to have Jarry in net here, but DeSmith has shown he can win of late and is in a great bounce-back spot Wednesday. He's had some clunkers this year but has been much better at home with a league-average .905 SV%. The market has corrected by five points since DeSmith being announced as the likely starter.

Both teams are getting healthier but the Penguins’ underlying metrics show a more sustainable success rate. Getting one of the best teams in hockey over the last two months at -135 isn’t a bad deal either.  

Prediction: Penguins ML (-135)

The Blues showed off their offense in front of the outdoor crowd of Target Field on Saturday but running up the score against the Penguins might be a more difficult task. Even facing DeSmith and not Jarry, St. Louis has to face one of the better defensive teams in hockey as Pittsburgh ranks fifth in xgoals against at 5-on-5 while also throttling opponents' power plays.  

The Penguins’ strengths on the penalty kill and 5-on-5 play favor the Under. Pittsburgh owns the league’s best penalty kill which is killing penalties at a 91% clip. Because of this, Pittsburgh has seen plenty of totals of 5.5 while St. Louis has also seen a closing total of 5.5 in three of their last five games. Tonight’s total of 6 could be an overreaction to each of the teams’ previous high-scoring games.

Both teams jumped out to substantial leads in their previous matches only to get soft defensively and give up some late goals. Both Mike Sullivan and Craig Berube will be happy with their teams’ play but some added attention to the defensive side of the game will likely be implemented for tonight’s match.

Some may worry about DeSmith in net and taking the Under but even with Jarry's sub-2.00 GAA, he doesn't rank in the Top 10 in goals saved above expected/60 thanks to a team in front of him that ranks in the top half in high-danger and medium-danger chances allowed.

Neither team has been profitable to the Over this season and despite a 60% Over rate over the last seven days, we’re leaning to the Under Wednesday night. Pittsburgh is an impressive 11-0-1 when leading after the first period and a lot of that has to do with its defensive play with the lead. If Pittsburgh gets up early, look for this game to slow down.

Prediction:Under 6 (-110)

Pittsburgh is nearing full strength and that's a scary thing for the rest of the league as this has been the best team in hockey for over six weeks. 

Favorites have also been crushing since the restart and have lost just four games in regulation over the last seven days (41 total games). A 78% winning trend for favorites is hard to ignore.

Metrics show us that Pittsburgh’s success is likely more replicable while the Blues have been slightly “lucky” with an xgoal% below 50 percent. We’re riding with Sid and the Pens Wednesday night.

Pick: Penguins ML (-135)

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