NHL Game Preview and Pick- New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The action is set to get underway at 4 p.m. (PT) and the game will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network.
New York wasted little time getting the early jump in this series with three goals in the first period of Wednesday night’s Game 1 on its way to a 6-1 romp as a 125 home favorite. It was its third victory in its last five games to move into a tie with New Jersey for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings with a total of 39 points. The total has gone OVER in three of these five games. The Rangers will now go for the series sweep on the road where they have gone just 6-9-1 this year.
Moving forward, New York will have a new look to its roster after trading All-Star forward Marian Gaborik to Columbus for Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard and John Moore. While the Rangers have continued to play at a high level on defense behind goalie Henrik Lundqvist (2.15 goals-against-average) they find themselves ranked second to last in the NHL in scoring with an average of just 2.4 goals a game. They have now scored 10 goals in their last two games after tallying a total of 11 goals in their previous six outings.
The Penguins were well on their way to rewriting the record books with a 15-game winning streak, but the loss of their captain Sidney Crosby with a broken jaw sent the team into a tailspin that resulted in two straight losses by a combined score of 10-2. Pittsburgh is still in control of the top spot in the East with 56 points and five-point lead over Montreal, but it will have to quickly snap-out of this funk to maintain that edge. Fortunately, this game will be played at home where the team has gone 15-5 this season. The total had stayed UNDER in 10 of the Penguins previous 11 games before going OVER against New York.
Pittsburgh was active as well leading up to Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. First it added Jarome Iginla in a trade with Calgary and then it picked-up Jussi Jokinen to add even more firepower to an offense that is ranked second in the league with 3.2 goals-per-game. The loss of Crosby (15 goals and 41 assists) is definitely huge, but both Chris Kunitz (20 goals) and James Neal (18 goals) have done a great job at lighting the lamp this season as well.
Rangers vs. Penguins Betting Lines and Trends
New York has been opened as a 129 road underdog on BetOnline’s money line with the Penguins listed as 142 home favorites on the NHL odds boards. The total for this game has been set at 5.
The Rangers are 8-3 in the second game of their last 11 home-and-home series, but just 2-5 in their last seven games on the road. The total has stayed UNDER in six of their last eight games against a team with a winning record.
The Penguins are 20-6 in the second game of their last 26 home-and-home series and 6-1 in their last seven Atlantic Division games. The total has stayed under in their last nine games at home.
The road team is 14-6 in the last 20 meetings of this division rivalry and the total has stayed under in six of the last eight games played in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have already won three of the first four games of this season’s series with the total evenly split at 2-2.
Rangers vs. Penguins Free NHL Pick
New York has been able to elevate its play over the past couple of games, but consistency has not been one of its strong points this season. The Penguins are not nearly as dominant as they are with Crosby in the lineup, but they still have a potent offensive attack that is due to return to form after scoring just two goals in this two-game slide.
Pittsburgh 4 New York 2 (lines provided by BetOnline)
Year-to-Date NHL Record: 23-12-2