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NHL Preview (Feb. 26)

Tuesday night features a total of nine games on the NHL schedule, offering bettors plenty of hard-hitting action.

In the first of our featured games, Pittsburgh will travel to Florida to take on the Panthers knowing that one of its major stars will be sidelined with concussion. Our second featured game features a pair of Western Conference sides looking to become a little more consistent than their early season performances have shown.

Read on for our preview of Tuesday’s NHL slate.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Florida Panthers

Having suffered concussion symptoms since Friday's game against the Panthers, Evgeni Malkin will miss Pittsburgh's visit to Florida on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh (13-6-0, 8-2-0 road) will have the opportunity to take top spot in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night as the side travels to Sunrise, Fla. To do so, the team will have to contend with the absence of star center, and current NHL MVP, Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin was injured in the third period of Friday’s 3-1 win over the Panthers in Pittsburgh. News has subsequently surfaced that the center – who played in Russia during the lockout – was suffering from concussion symptoms. No timescale has been announced for his return.

For the Penguins, injuries derailed the side’s chances last season. The team will be praying the same doesn’t happen again this campaign.

Florida (5-9-4, 2-4-3 home) will hope that Malkin’s absence affords the team an extra shot at beating the Penguins. The Panthers – losers of seven of the last eight – need all the help they can muster at this stage of the season. The side has lost seven of the last eight at home, including a 4-1 loss to Boston on Sunday, and has only grabbed a pair of victories all season when playing at BB&T Center.

The Penguins are at the other end of the spectrum. Winners of five of the last six games, the Penguins have won six of the last seven road games, and have compiled the second best (to Chicago) road record in the league this season. The Penguins defeated Tampa Bay 5-3 on Sunday.

This large discrepancy in form, despite Malkin’s injury, sees the Penguins (-152) enter the game as favorites over Florida (+138).

The total opened at 5.5. The Penguins are second in the league with 3.4 goals per game, while Florida gives up 3.6 goals per game, a number that is dead last in the league. Pittsburgh (11-8-0) favors the over while Florida (8-9-1) has seen an almost even split. The over may well be where the smart money is in this one.

Phoenix Coyotes at Vancouver Canucks

Radim Vrbata and the Phoenix Coyotes will look to snap a two game losing streak as they travel to Vancouver.

Despite a somewhat streaky season so far this year, Vancouver (10-4-4, 5-5-2 home) currently holds top spot in the Northwest Division and occupies the No. 3 berth in the Western Conference. The team will take to the ice on Tuesday looking to rebound from an 8-3 drubbing in Detroit on Sunday.

Phoenix (8-7-3, 2-4-2 road) is currently at the heart of the playoff race out West, currently finding itself just two points removed from a berth. The Coyotes were ranked 12th by bookmakers ahead of the season, so an upset could well be in the making.

The two sides will meet tonight at Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver.

The Canucks have lost four of the last six. Prior to that, the team had won six straight. The side has lost its last two at home, but had won five straight before that, another example of the streaky nature of the team this year.

Phoenix has lost two straight, including a narrow 5-4 loss in Calgary on Sunday. The Coyotes had won six of eight prior to that. The team has also lost three straight at home.

Vancouver (-173) is favored over Phoenix (+157) ahead of the opening face-off. This will be the first of three meetings between the sides this season. The two sides split the season series 2-2 last year, with both teams winning one at home and one on the road. Both home victories came by shootout.

The total opened at 5. Phoenix (9-7-2) has favored the over this season while Vancouver (7-9-2) has favored the under. Both sides rank in the top half of the league in goals scored and goals allowed.

Around the League

With just one win in 10 games, San Jose (8-6-3, 5-1-2 home) has slipped out of the Western Conference playoff berths. The side can put the brakes on this slide with a win over Colorado (7-8-2, 2-6-1 road) on Tuesday. The Avs are second from bottom out West and have a horrible road record. The Sharks (-168) enter as favorites over Colorado (+153).

The New York Rangers (8-7-2, 6-3-1 home) host Winnipeg (8-9-1, 5-4-1 road) on Tuesday night. A win – combined with a Tampa Bay loss to Buffalo – would put the Rangers into the top eight in the Eastern Conference. Consider that the first step to this team living up to its status as favorite ahead of the season. The line hasn’t been released on this one yet, so keep an eye out on the BettingSports.com NHL odds page.


Tuesday’s NHL Schedule (in full)

Winnipeg at NY Rangers

Carolina at Washington

Dallas at Columbus

Boston at NY Islanders

Buffalo at Tampa Bay

Pittsburgh at Florida

Calgary at Minnesota

Phoenix at Vancouver

Colorado at San Jose

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