We share NHL picks & predictions for the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal playoff series between the Penguins and Rangers. Does the heavy underdog Penguins have any chance of winning this series?
Old Rivals meet in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
A couple of Metropolitan Division rivals will square off in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals when the Rangers and Penguins square off. The series will begin on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. According to the NHL odds at Bookmaker, the Rangers are a -225 money line favorite to win the series, and the Penguins are listed at +180. These teams met four times during the regular season, and the Rangers won three of those games. The lone Pittsburgh win came via an overtime shootout. This will be a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals in which the Rangers overcame a three to one series deficit, and won in seven games.
Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins will certainly be under a lot of scrutiny in this series based on his past playoff failures. Fleury started in all four games versus the Rangers this season, and compiled a horrible .866 save percentage in those outings. He was also a dismal 8-16 in twenty-four starts versus Metropolitan Division opponents, and had a below average .895 save percentage. On a positive note, Fleury recorded a career best ten shutouts this season.
Henrik Lundquist looks as if he’s returned to top form after being out for nearly two months due to injury. Lundquist posted an impressive .932 save percentage over his last four starts of the regular season. “Sir Henrik” started in all four games versus the Penguins this year, and compiled a terrific .950 save percentage.
Penguins barely squeak into the Playoffs
The Pittsburgh Penguins played themselves into a tough situation by going 4-11 in their final fifteen games of the 2014-2015 NHL campaign. As a matter of fact, they needed a win in their final game in order to make the playoffs, and did so by defeating the lowly Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on home ice. The win over Buffalo snapped a five game losing streak. If a team’s performance in the first round of the playoffs is based on how they finished the regular season, then the Penguins are certainly headed for an early exit. Even more troublesome is this offensively talented team has scored two goals or less in twelve of their last eighteen games.
Rangers steamrolling into the Postseason
The New York Rangers started the season by going 7-11 in their first eighteen games. After that slow start, they proceeded to go a sizzling hot 46-18 the rest of the way. They earned 113-points on the season which was an all time franchise high, and were awarded the President’s Trophy as a result of having the most points in the NHL during regular season play. This is a club with few if any flaws. They have size, speed, and stellar goaltending. The only team that can beat the Rangers in this series is the Rangers.
I would be very much surprised if this series went beyond five games, and wouldn’t be shocked in the least to see a four game sweep by the Rangers. Although I hate laying this kind of juice, I just can’t make an inkling of a case for the Penguins to pull the upset with all being considered. My money management suggestion is a simple one. If you normally wager to win $300 on the money line NHL pick, I would advise betting $300 to make $133 in order to minimize the risk, and still be rewarded if the highly probable result takes place.
NHL Picks: Play on the Rangers -175 at The Greek