NHL Odds & Picks for Penguins vs. Rangers: Fade a Drama-Filled New York Team

NHL Odds & Picks for Penguins vs. Rangers: Fade a Drama-Filled New York Team article feature image
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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Sidney Crosby.

Penguins vs. Rangers Odds

Penguins Odds -108
Ducks Odds -107
Over/Under 6.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Sunday night and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night to defeat the New York Rangers, 5-4. Since then, the Rangers have seen themselves encapsulated in a world of off-ice drama sparked by the ending of the game. 

The two teams will meet up again on Monday night in a matchup that the oddsmakers see as a tossup. Will the Rangers be able to ignore the drama and rebound in the second game of the series? 

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Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have opened the season with a 5-3-1 record with three of their wins coming against the Rangers.

In a league that’s seeing a lot of two-game series this season due to the schedule, a lot of teams are splitting the games against their opponents. That hasn’t been the case with the Penguins this season, as they’ve either swept or gotten swept in the first four two-game mini-series they have played.

That should bode well for Pittsburgh after taking the opener on Saturday. In that game, the Penguins were deserving winners. They had over 58% of the shot attempts, as well as over 61% of the high danger chances at 5-on-5. They won the expected goal battle, 2.46-1.45. Special teams forced the game into overtime, as the Rangers scored both a shorthanded and power-play goal. 

Goaltender Casey DeSmith got the win on Saturday night but surrendered four goals. This leads to the biggest question mark surrounding this team to begin the year.

DeSmith has posted a disappointing -2.54 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) to begin the year. However, his mark is sparkling compared to the Penguins starting goalie, Tristan Jarry, who has the second worst GSAx in the league with a -6.85 mark. 

Goaltending will remain the question mark in Pittsburgh throughout the season, as the Pens have a solid analytical profile under the hood. Their expected goals rate comes in at a touch over 51%, while they’re getting about six more shot attempts than their opponent per game. With this level of play and their high-end talent including Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins should win a lot of games as long as they get enough saves. 

New York Rangers

The Rangers have won just two of their first eight games and after an offseason with increased hope and expectations, it seems like things might be beginning to boil over in New York’s locker room. 

Reports say that Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo got into an altercation with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev after the game on Saturday night. Their miscommunication led to Crosby’s overtime winner. Unconfirmed rumors say a teammate punched DeAngelo. All of this culminated in the Rangers waiving DeAngelo, who finished fourth in scoring by defenseman in 2019-20. 

When looking at the Rangers, one does not expect to find a team with just two wins. Their analytical profile is satisfactory, as they are over 50% in expected goals, shot attempts and high danger chances. The Rangers finished last season with the second-worst mark in terms of expected goals against. The team has improved dramatically and currently sits towards the middle of the league in that regard. 

Their forward group is littered with talent, beginning with Hart Trophy contender Artemi Panarin, who is joined by Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome and Alexis Lafreniere in what should be one of the more dynamic offenses in the league. 

Coach David Quinn’s handling of the Rangers’ goalie situation has been criticized. He has evenly split the workload between Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin, who entered the season as the favorite to win the Calder Trophy  after a strong cameo last season. 

Despite this, Georgiev has gotten equal playing time and has underperformed with a -2.21 GSAx. If the rotation continues, expect to see Shesterkin in between the pipes on Monday. He’s been the better goalie, but his -1.65 GSAx is still underwhelming. 

Penguins vs. Rangers Best Bet

The line in this game is set at a basic pick’em, which, in my opinion, gives the Rangers too much credit. Even with the Rangers at home, I have a hard time not making the Penguins a favorite in this contest. I think they’re a better team with more offensive firepower and a better team defense. 

While some might want to write off the DeAngelo drama as noise, it can’t be a positive sign for the Rangers. DeAngelo is widely disliked in the hockey world due to his past problematic behavior, so maybe the Rangers ridding themselves of him can be spun as a positive. At the same time, this is one of the more talented offensive defensemen in the sport who we are talking about.

It also suggests that the tensions are high in the Rangers locker room. Their slow start to the season might have them feeling the pressure. I’m not sure I trust Quinn enough as a coach to navigate through these rough waters. 

When you couple the disarray in the Rangers’ locker room with the fact I think the Penguins are a better team, I like them in this spot at a short number. 

Bet: Pittsburgh -108 (up to -115)

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