Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference will square off on Tuesday night as the raucous crowd Madison Square Garden will get to see Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Pens lead the NHL with 32 points in 24 games but the New York Rangers aren’t far behind. They have 27 points this season but have played the fewest games in the NHL with just 20, which means they are likely better than sixth-seeding indicates right now. 

The Rangers have been tough to beat at home (6-1-1) and the Penguins haven’t been so hot on the road (6-5-2), but there’s a good chance those trends don’t hold up on Tuesday. 

Tuesday, November 29th

NHL Odds makers opened this game as a pick em' with both teams at -110, but earlh NHL betting action has now moved the Penguins to -120. The public has been hitting Pittsburgh hard, and I have no reason to go against them. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins can win because… 

Sidney CrosbySidney Crosby is back. 

The Pens were already a good team without him in the lineup, but now that he’s back the Pens feel invincible. Pittsburgh has won three of four games since he’s been back and they’ve scored 17 goals in the process. Their offense is quite lethal and they will be too much for the Rangers too handle. 

Pittsburg has been planning for this day for quite some time. Even dating back to the trade deadline last season, the Pens picked up James Neal in the hopes that he’d regain his scoring touch and one day would add even more scoring pop to a lineup that already includes so many versatile weapons. Well he’s surely regained his prowess, scoring 13 goals so far this season, and you can add that to Chris Kunitz who has eight goals and – believe it or not – has had five taken away (official review).

How about third-line center Jordan Staal, who has 12 goals in 22 games and is on pace for 44 goals? Throw in Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and the Pens have an embarrassment of riches up front. 

The Rangers have scored just 56 goals this season and won’t be able to go toe-to-toe. As long as the Pens dictate the pace of this game, they are going to win it. 

The New York Rangers can win because… 

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will be the difference-maker.

Henrik LundqvistHe’s 20-13-5 against the Penguins in his career with a 2.41 GAA. Last season, he was even better with a 4-1-1 record and a 2.27 GAA. He’s been nearly untouchable at the Garden this season, giving up just 13 goals in six starts to post a 2.12 GAA and a 4-1-1 record. 

Overall, Lundqvist has won seven of his last eight starts, allowing 14 goals in the process. 

For the Rangers, that’s what works for them. As a matter of fact, it’s the only thing that works for them as they know they have to keep games low scoring to be successful. 

So far this season, no team in the NHL has allowed fewer goals than the Rangers (43). That’s part of why they’ve won nine of their last 11 games.

On offense, Brad Richards is helping the Rangers do just enough as he has notched 11 points in his last 12 games. 

At home, the Rangers should be able to dictate the pace and eke out a tight win. 

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction: 

The Rangers are a solid blue collar team that wins by outworking and outhustling their opponents, while also getting stellar goaltending from Lundqvist. But the reality is that they are not nearly as talented as some of the better teams in the league and they are going to find that out on Tuesday. 

The Pens have a slew of weapons that and the type of talent that will overwhelm the Rangers blue line. With Marc Staal still out, the Rangers will be missing one of their best defensemen against an offense that is clicking on all cylinders. With a cheap price on the Pens, take advantage and add them to you NHL picks on Tuesday. 

NHL Picks: Penguins

Be sure to check out the rest of my Tuesday Hockey Picks.