NHL Picks: History Proves Penguins Are Still In The Lead Against Rangers

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, April 21, 2016 1:50 PM GMT

Thursday, Apr. 21, 2016 1:50 PM GMT

The Penguins have taken 5 of 6 from the Rangers coming into game 4 of this series. Our NHL handicapper suggests this trend will continue on Thursday night.

2016 YTD NHL: 8-8-1, -1.70 Units

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. N.Y. Rangers  
With a new goalie in the crease for game 3, the Pittsburgh Penguins ramped up the defensive pressure and came away with a 3-1 win to take a 2-1 series lead against the New York Rangers. That win came as road favorites at -120 on the NHL odds boards, while the score put the total under the 5.5 consensus O/U line. For this game, the Penguins are slightly favored again at -115 at BetOnline, while the O/U total has found itself back at the common number of 5 with a slight -125 shade to the Over at Bookmaker.

The Penguins finally got one of their top two goaltenders back in Matt Murray, who replaced Jeff Zatkoff, the starter in games 1 and 2. Again, the Penguins played great team defense in this game and allowed the Rangers only 17 shots on goal. It was Matt Murray’s first postseason game though, and albeit he had a bit of self-described nervousness, didn’t show it in tending goal in the game.

The New York Rangers got team captain Ryan McDonagh back for this game after missing the last five games with a right hand injury. He was thrown right back into the fold and led the Rangers in ice time. McDonagh amassed 34 points with 9 goals and 25 assists in 73 games during the regular season, so an important cog.

The Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin was back at center in this game as was more effective there than he was in game 2 on the wing. The lines continue to get shifted for Pittsburgh, with even Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist getting a new linemate with Conor Sheary. That line scored the first goal for Pittsburgh as Sidney Crosby got on the board late in the 2nd period after assists by Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin.

A little bit of controversy has brewed in this series due to a “maybe” but probably slash by Kris Letang on Viktor Stalberg that knocked out three of his teeth in game 2. The NHL has ruled that the hit was unintentional and not reason for a suspension, but you can guess how the Ranger’s fans and players feel about it. Stalberg is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game as he gets some serious dental work done.

With the revenge factor favoring the Penguins in this series due to prior postseason series losses against the Rangers, I don’t think the Penguins let up at all in this series. The Penguins had the Rangers down 3-1 last year too, after all, and they let New York back in the series to end their season. With Matt Murray and Evgeni Malkin back in, the Penguins are getting healthy at just the right time too.

At the end of the day, the Penguins have taken 5 of 6 from the Rangers since early March, and are definitely the better team in this matchup. That is why they are found as a road favorite. The lines have shifted in the Penguins favor across the board as well. At Heritage, Pittsburgh is now favored at -115 after opening at -104 at Pinnacle, the Penguins are favored at -121 after opening at -105. Shop around here to get the best line, which appears to be at Heritage at the moment, and take the Penguins on the moneyline as one of your Thursday NHL picks.

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Free NHL Pick: Penguins -115
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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