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Rangers vs. Penguins Odds & Picks: Why You Should Target the Total

Rangers vs. Penguins Odds & Picks: Why You Should Target the Total article feature image

Justin K. Aller/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Sidney Crosby.

  • The Rangers and Penguins meet on Sunday night, and there will be no shortage of attacking talent on the ice.
  • Between Artemi Panarin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both teams' defenses are in for a long night -- and aren't playing well to begin with.
  • Pete Truszkowski sees value on the total in Pittsburgh and explains why below.

Rangers vs. Penguins Odds

Rangers Odds +123
Penguins Odds -141
Over/Under 6.5
Time 7:00 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday night and via DraftKings.

After a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout win over the New York Rangers on Friday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Rangers again on Sunday evening. 

After closing as consensus -140 favorites in the first meeting, the Penguins are in a similar range in the rematch after coming through for those who backed the favorite. 

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New York Rangers

After being shutout in their season opener, the Rangers’ offense has started to get things going by scoring 11 times in its last three games. This is a good sign for New York since the team is built to outscore its opponents. 

Artemi Panarin was a contender for the Hart Trophy last season and the Russian winger has gotten it going again early this season. Panarin already has five points in just four games, continuing to be one of the more feared offensive players in the league. 

Outside of Panarin, a lot of the Rangers’ top attacking options are off to slow starts. Mika Zibanejad had 75 points in 57 games last season, but he has just two thus far. Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome have just one combined point. The first overall pick of the 2020 draft, Alexis Lafreniere, is yet to record his first career point.

Despite this, the Rangers are still scoring at a good pace. It’ll only improve once some of their top players get settled into the season.

On the bright side, it looks like Kaapo Kakko has taken a step forward after his disappointing rookie season. The No. 2 overall pick from 2019 has scored twice in the last three games. Fellow youngsters Pavel Buchnevich and Filip Chytil are also having productive starts for New York. 

The Rangers need to keep their offense rolling because their defense is a cause for concern. Last season, they finished with the second-worst mark in the league when it came to expected goals against. They’ve been a bit better in that regard to open this season but still find themselves in the bottom 10. 

Last season, the team was bailed out down the stretch by rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin posted a .932 save percentage in 12 games last season and was amongst the favorites to win the Calder Trophy at the beginning of this season. Through two starts, Shesterkin has given up seven goals.  He’s going to have to be better for the Rangers to survive their leaky defense.  

Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s been a weird start to the year for the Penguins. They lost their first two games of the season but rebounded to win their last three, all of which required overtime. 

The biggest issue for the Penguins to begin this season has been in between the pipes. The team traded two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie Matt Murray in the offseason and decided to roll with two young unproven netminders in Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith.

To begin the year, Jarry has the second worst goals saved above expectation (GSAx) in the league at -4.88. DeSmith hasn’t been much better at -2.09 GSAx through two starts. Both have had stretches of success in the NHL in previous years but now that the team has been handed over to them, the pressure is on. 

The Penguins are giving up the second-most goals per game at 5-on-5 with 3.7. They are also a bottom-10 team in terms of High-Danger Chances against. The defensive issues are a bit of a surprise as the Penguins were among the league leaders last season in terms of limiting dangerous chances and keeping their expected goals against low. 

Like the Rangers, the Penguins have the ability to put up a crooked number due to their offensive talent. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are two generational superstars. Their supporting cast consisting of Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust is more than enough to have a top-end offense. The numbers back that up, as Pittsburgh has scored 13 goals in its last three games. 

Rangers vs. Penguins Best Bet

While the Penguins are widely seen as the better team, these teams’ style of play to begin the season mirror each other. Both teams are struggling defensively and relying on their offenses to keep them afloat.

These teams played each other on Friday night, and both teams scored three goals in regulation before Pittsburgh won in a shootout.

Whether it’s Jarry or DeSmith in between the pipes for the Penguins, neither has done much to inspire confidence. The team’s defensive play in front of them isn’t helping matters either.

All five Penguins games this far have gone over the total, and the Rangers are a bad team to try and figure out your defensive issues against with an assortment of talented attackers.

On the flipside, the Penguins have an offense that can expose the Rangers’ leaky defense.

In terms of side, I think the line is about right. If you could get the Rangers at better than +130 by Sunday night, I’d strongly consider making a play there. However at +123, the price is a little too low.

My favorite way to attack this game would be the total. I think these teams will try to outscore their defensive issues which could lead to a back and forth affair like we saw on Friday night between these teams.

Pick: Over 6.5 goals

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