Free NHL Pick: New York Rangers To Beat Pittsburgh Penguins

Dana Lane

Sunday, March 27, 2016 2:39 PM GMT

Sunday, Mar. 27, 2016 2:39 PM GMT

This is a first round preview as the Rangers sit in the second spot in the Metro Devision, Pittsburgh is four points behind in the third spot so let's check the NHL odds and forecast for this game.

This is a match-up that appears we'll see more of in the next month as the Rangers and Penguins sit in the three/four spot in the Metro. With all the injuries the Penguins are trying to overcome this is an opportunity for the Rangers to solidify home ice advantage in the first round.  

The NHL Odds opened at -140 and has been quickly bet down to -133, mostly because we don't know the status of top winger, Chris Kunitz, who left last night's game after being hit by Pavel Datsyuk. Kunitz is a game time decision.  The Pens are already dealing with injuries to Evgeni Malkin who will be out a minimum of another month. Pittsburgh now has three Centermen injured. Thursday, Olli Maatta, suffered a LBI and isn't expected back in the regular season.  New York is almost 100% healthy aside from Dylan McIIrath. 

New York has beaten the Penguins in five of their last seven meetings at Madison Square Garden which includes last years elimination of the Penguins in the playoffs. The Rangers have been a huge home play overall winning 51 of their last 76 home games. 

Pittsburgh is still in danger of falling into the second wild card spot as they are only one point ahead of the New York Islanders. Pittsburgh just crushed the Islanders, 7-2, with Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino each had five points.  It's great when guys step up but it's difficult to rely on both of them on a consistent basis. Kessel has underachieved and Bonino has never been a big point guy.  

The major advantage is the Rangers ability to get off to a fast start.  Alain Vigneault always has the Rangers ready to play which is reflected in their first period success.  New York is fourth in the league in 1st period scoring averaging 0.84 goals.  Unfortunately the Penguins can't match that first period intensity.  It always seems to take them awhile to get comfortable.  Pittsburgh ranks 23rd in the opening frame averaging 0.66 goals per game. There is such a huge discrepancy between the two that I'd prefer to back the team that is more likely to get on the board first. 

The Penguins are fantastic in the second period but they seem to lose momentum again in the third dropping even lower to 25th.  New York, again, enjoys a huge third period advantage, ranking 3rd with a 1.13 average.  Of course the injuries play a huge role but when we focus on this game I'm going to back a team that can start fast and end strong. 

Pittsburgh is starting a trend that is hurting bettors because most see a big offensive explosion and rush to the window to back them the next game.  This has been a losing proposition as the Penguins have dropped six of their last seven games after scoring five or more goals the previous game. 

I'll make The Rangers my NHL Pick as they have the Penguins number at MSG and I like the Rangers ability to open and close games. 

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Free NHL Pick:  Rangers -123
Best Line Offered:  at Pinnacle

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