Two of the top four teams in the Metropolitan division clash tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins travel to the New York Rangers. It’s time to continue our NHL odds series with a Penguins-Rangers prediction and pick.
New York comes in as winners of three of their last four games, but their one recent loss was at Pittsburgh on March 12th. After a seven-game win streak from mid-January into February, the Rangers dropped four straight, before their current 5-3 stretch of games. The Penguins come in off a loss to Montreal, but are winners of seven of their last ten games. That includes two wins over a quality Tampa Bay squad and one over the Rangers. The Penguins go into tonight looking to win their third game this year over the Rangers in their four-game season-long series.
Here are the Penguins-Rangers NHL odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NHL Odds: Penguins-Rangers Odds
Pittsburgh Penguins: +1.5 (-194)
New York Rangers: -1.5 (+160)
Over: 6.5 (-108)
Under: 6.5 (-112)
How To Watch Penguins vs. Rangers
TV: MSG / ESPN+
Stream: NHLPP / ESPN+
Time: 7:00 PM ET/ 4:00 PM PT
*Watch NHL games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why The Penguins Could Cover The Spread
The Penguins come into the game averaging 3.8 goals per game in their last ten games. This is a half-goal per game better than they have been all season long, and their stars all starting to heat up at the same time. Team points leader, Sidney Crosby, has a point in eight of his last nine games, and is averaging over one per game since the All-Star break. Not to be outdone, Evgeni Malkin has points in eight of his last ten, and is also over one point per game since the break. Adding to it is Jake Guentzel who has scored in seven of ten, and gives the Penguins’ offensive unit three players in the top 50 in points in the NHL this year.
While they are putting up more points, the defense needs to continue to tighten up. The Penguins are squarely a middle-of-the-pack team when it comes to giving up goals, sitting at 3.21 goals allowed per game. They give up the 6th most shots in the NHL and are facing a Rangers team that has a 10.2% shooting percentage on the year. This high shots-against total, combined with the opportunities they give up, is what places them as the 12th worst team in the NHL on expected goals-against per game, according to MoneyPuck. Limiting those shots and opportunities will be key for the Penguins in this one.
Why The Rangers Could Cover The Spread
The Rangers made some big moves at the trade deadline in order to make a run at the Cup this year. Patrick Kane took two games to get adjusted, but in the last four, he has five points, with three goals, 15 shots on goals, and created a bevy of scoring opportunities. Their other major acquisition in Vladimir Tarasenko has ten points in his 16 games with the Rangers, including six in his last seven games. These moves have caused New York to jump in their expected goals for, and goals above expected according to MoneyPuck.
This has also helped the Rangers’ power play. The Rangers currently sit eighth in power play percentage on the year and are facing a team in Pittsburgh that averages 8.5 penalty minutes per game. That should give the Rangers at least three chances on the power play, and with how they have been converting lately, they should be able to get a goal in one of them.
Goaltending play has also been a strong suit for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin is tied for second in win-loss record in the NHL, and top 20 in both goals against average and save percentage. In March he has started five games, coming away with four wins and a goals-against average of 2.53. Since the All-Star break, Shesterkin has given up three or fewer goals in seven of 12 outings. All of them are Rangers wins. When he gives up more than three, he is 2-3 in that time frame. If Shesterkin is on, and can stop this Rangers offense that is improving, they will be the win at home tonight.
Final Penguins-Rangers Prediction & Pick
New York has won seven of their last ten games at home and played a great game against Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. The new players for the Rangers have been playing great, and continue to get better in their roles with the team. While all this is true, it is hard to ignore that the aging stars of the Penguins are currently hot. Age is a keyword there though, as continuing to expect them to perform at that level on a nightly basis is hard. The Rangers will come away with a close one at home tonight.
Final Penguins-Rangers Prediction & Pick: Penguins +1.5 (-194)