Penguins vs. Rangers Picks
By Rock Westfall
Unconditional surrender was submitted by the New York Rangers on February 25 and 26 when they sent Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, and JT Miller packing at the trade deadline. The white flag was raised with a public admission letter to their fans indicating the pain of a rebuild was to begin. Playoffs are now a pipe dream for the Broadway Blueshirts and their fans for what could be years to come. For the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, a post season berth is almost certain. What is not certain is their goaltending situation as Matt Murray is out indefinitely.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers
Date and Time: Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
NHL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Check Back Later
Penguins vs. Rangers TV Coverage: NBCSN “Rivalry Night”
Goal scoring was a problem for the Rangers before the trades and now it’s even worse. New York ranks 20th in the NHL for goal scoring. Even more problematic is a backend that lost its best defenseman in McDonagh. The Rangers are 25th in the NHL for goals against. With three wins in their last ten games those metrics illustrate why they will be hitting the links next month.
The Penguins have been wildly inconsistent but have managed to catch the Washington Capitals for the lead in the Metropolitan Division. Despite the absence of Murray, the Pens have beat the NHL odds in four of their last five games. Over the total has paid in seven of their last ten games.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray has been out since March 2 and his status remains indefinite. Murray backstopped both of the Penguins Stanley Cup titles and his absence leaves an incalculable void. Rangers backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec is out until mid-March with a bad knee. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is also battling a bad knee and will be out another couple of weeks for the Blueshirts.
Filling in for Murray has been 22-year-old rookie Tristan Jarry. Jarry has a .910 save percentage in 25 games this season. However, in his last five starts he has shown signs of feeling the extra pressure with a slumping save percentage of .887. Backup Casey DeSmith has a .919 save percentage in ten games. Interestingly enough the Rangers did not trade marquee man Henrik Lundqvist at the deadline. “King Henrik” remains the identity of the team. The 12-year veteran has played better since the surrender with a save percentage of .927 in his last five starts compared to .916 for the entire season. Alexander Georgiev is the New York backup with a strong .930 save percentage
Players to Watch
For the Broadway Blueshirts Lundqvist is clearly the man to watch. He has held strong and not complained as the roster was gutted. He loves the Rangers and living in the Big Apple. He continues to play with pride and represents the team with pure class. Right wing Mats Zuccarello carries the offensive burden for the Rangers. He leads the team in scoring with 12 goals and 34 assists. Star power is the cache of the Penguins. Boasting three top forwards in Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel they have an embarrassment of riches. Defenseman Kris Letang is one of the best in the game. Center Jake Guentzel and right wing Patric Hornqvist are important contributors, especially on the power play. Malkin leads Pittsburgh with 39 goals and 48 assists. Additionally, he owns 13 goals and 20 assists on the power play.
The Penguins have the top power play in the NHL. The Rangers rank eighth for penalty killing though their unit is much thinner now than it was for most of the season.
Pittsburgh has controlled the cashier’s cage in this head to head series with 12 payouts in their last 16 meetings with the Rangers. Eight of the last nine games between the Rangers and Pens have gone over the total.
Pittsburgh has left MSG with a sack of cash in seven of their last eight visits. Just one of the last five games in New York between these teams has gone under the total.
Penguins vs. Rangers Free Picks
While Pittsburgh has been erratic without Murray they remain considerably deeper and more capable. They are also playing for more.
Penguins vs. Rangers Pick: Bet the Pittsburgh Penguins money line
Penguins vs. Rangers Score Prediction: Penguins 5, Rangers 2