Betting for entertainment purposes only, but who ya got on these home-cooked prop bets for the 2013-14 season:
#1 - More points: Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin
--The two Penguin superstars have traded places as the team’s leading scorer in each of the last five seasons, which would mean it’s Malkin’s turn. We buck that trend and pick Crosby.
#2 - Over/under goals for James Neal: 39.5
--Neal scored 40 goals in 2011-12 and his 21 goal effort last year (in just 40 games) would have been on pace for 36 goals in a full season. It’s hard to score 40 (basically can’t miss much, if any games to injury) so we’ll have to take the under on this one, though probably not by much.
#3 - More goals: Kris Letang or Beau Bennett
--Letang netted 5 goals in 35 last season, Bennett got 3 in his first 26 NHL games. We like Bennett’s chances of seeing time with Malkin-Neal and getting some PP duty, so we think he’ll crack double digits, and we'll take Bennett here.
#4 - Over/under games played by Sidney Crosby: 60.5
--Optimistically, we’ll go over, because all bad luck has to run out as some point, right?
#5 - Highest number (NHL regular season): Steve MacIntyre (games played) or Evgeni Malkin (fighting majors) or Brooks Orpik (goals)
--This could be a “race to 1” to win this bet. Let’s hope it’s an Orpik goal, but no one hold their breath on this one.
#6 - More goals: Pascal Dupuis or Chris Kunitz
--Kunitz gets to hang in front of the net on the top unit PP, eat cross-checks and maybe get some swipes at rebounds. Dupuis has to trudge through PK minutes and doesn’t get PP chances. We’ll take Kunitz.
#7 - More games played: Dustin Jeffrey or Robert Bortuzzo
--This one is the Bylsma delight. Jeffrey could be anywhere from 3rd line to healthy scratch on opening night, Bortuzzo figures to be the #7 defensemen who will see games when a guy ahead of him gets hurt. We’ll pick Jeffrey here, not because we don’t think Bort won’t play a lot (he probably will) but because Jeffrey really should be an every night player given how weak the Pens bottom six forwards are.
#8 - Higher number: Evgeni Malkin points or Rob Scuderi games played
--Scuderi hasn’t missed a game in 3+ seasons, so it really becomes how much Malkin will score. Malkin’s only scored 82+ points once in the past three seasons, but we’ll pick Geno to score more than 82 this year.
#9 - Over/under points per game, Sidney Crosby: 1.55
--Crosby’s PPG in the past few seasons has been higher than this bar, but it would be difficult to play 82 games and score this much (would need 128 points, 8 more than Crosby’s career high back in 2007). I’ll call Sid under on this bet, but only because in hopes he’ll play 70-80 games and not quite get 115+ points. Though, who knows..
#10 - Over/under games started, Marc-Andre Fleury: 53.5
--Fleury started 31 games (of 48) last season. Project that out, and it’d be 53 starts. Think he’ll start more or less than last season? We’ll choose the over, only because the longer season is a longer grind and the Pens will want to keep Vokoun as fresh as possible for the spring, just in case.
#11 - Over/under total games played, Tomas Vokoun: 36.5
--Vokoun appeared in 20 games last season, which projects to 34 appearances in a full season. He should push close to this number (which was why the line was set where it was, to make it difficult) but we'll go under 37 total appearances.
#12 - More goals: Matt D’Agostini or Jussi Jokinen
--Both players could get a shot on the third line, and both players have had some decent goal scoring seasons, albeir years ago in different jerseys (D'Ag put up 21 in 2010-11, Jokinen lit the lamp 30 times in 2009-10). Which one will be more successful in their first year as a Penguin? The safe play might be Jokinen, but we'll roll the dice on D'Agostini and his boom/bust potential this season to maybe catch fire for a 5-10 game span and pot enough goals to give him a lead on this one.
What do you guys think? Taking any action on the bets above? Bet now before we send Deryk Engelland with a baseball bat to help you remember to "pay up".
(Just kidding, we'd never hurt our dear readers and besides, Engo isn't that great with a stick-like object in hand.