NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Penguins vs. Rangers
Joe Sargent/Getty. Pictured: Sidney Crosby shoots the puck in a game against the Rangers.
- The Penguins and Rangers have split a pair of games over the past week and will look to break that tie Saturday night.
- Pittsburgh needs this game more for playoff positioning, but do the Penguins have an edge?
- Ryan Dadoun answers that and provides his best bet below.
Penguins vs. Rangers Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Penguins and the Rangers have gotten very familiar with each other lately. Pittsburgh earned a 3-2 overtime victory over New York on Sunday, but then lost 4-2 to the Rangers on Thursday. With each team earning a win against the other recently, who will come out on top when they face off again Saturday?
If nothing else, the Penguins need these two points more. The Rangers are pretty much settled into the third slot in the Metropolitan Division, but Pittsburgh is still in a tight race for a wild-card spot, especially after dropping its past two contests.
However, Pittsburgh might be without Jeff Petry after he left Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury and missed Friday’s practice. Petry has five goals and 26 points in 52 outings this season, while averaging 22:12 of ice time. His absence would make the Penguins’ blueline much thinner beyond the top pairing of Kris Letang and Marcus Pettersson.
At least Pittsburgh’s forward core is fairly healthy. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel each have over 20 goals and 60 points this season. They’re a huge part of the reason why the Penguins are tied for the 13th-best offense with 3.26 goals per game. It’s also worth keeping a close eye on Jason Zucker, who has nine markers over his past 10 contests.
In net, the Penguins have a decision to make. Do they send out Tristan Jarry, who has struggled with a 4.39 GAA and an .851 save percentage over his past six appearances? Or do they go with backup goaltender Casey DeSmith, who has a less than stellar 3.08 GAA and a .908 save percentage in 33 games, but has saved 59 of 61 shots over his past three outings? Either goaltender is a risk, but given Jarry’s recent play, it wouldn’t be surprising if DeSmith gets the nod.
New York Rangers
Whichever goaltender the Penguins send out will figure to be at a disadvantage compared to the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin is having another solid season with a 31-11-7 record, a 2.63 GAA and a .910 save percentage through 49 games. He also turned aside 30 of 32 shots against the Penguins on Thursday.
The Rangers are playing against Nashville on Sunday though, so there’s an outside chance New York will decide to save Shesterkin for that game and leave backup Jaroslav Halak to deal with Pittsburgh. Even if Halak ends up in goal, Pittsburgh will still have to face the full force of the Rangers’ offense.
Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have been a great one-two punch all season, providing 75 and 72 points respectively. New York also has one of the league’s top offensive defensemen in Adam Fox, who has 61 points in 68 contests, and a great goal-scorer in Chris Kreider, who has 30 markers and 47 points in 65 outings.
Recently, New York has also gotten considerable offensive help from a somewhat unexpected source in defenseman Jacob Trouba. The 29-year-old has three goals and six points over his past seven games, bringing him up to seven goals and 24 points in 68 contests this season.
While that’s all good on its own, the Rangers have gone from having a solid forward core to an embarrassment of riches up front thanks to the acquisitions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane.
If there’s a silver lining here for Pittsburgh, it’s that the Rangers’ offense hasn’t hit its stride. While it looks great on paper, New York has averaged a mediocre 3.00 goals per game over Kane’s first seven contests with the squad — and that’s even with Trouba being hot. The Rangers might need more time to develop chemistry after making some major trades, which creates a potential opening for Pittsburgh.
Penguins vs. Rangers Pick
The Rangers are heavy favorites on the moneyline to the point where the potential payout isn’t good enough to make them appealing. Taking Pittsburgh on the puck line offers a bad return as well.
Under these circumstances, I’m going to recommend grabbing Pittsburgh on the moneyline. The Penguins’ underdog status makes this a strong potential return, which isn’t an unrealistic outcome given how important this game is to Pittsburgh. Plus, while the Rangers have tons of talent up front, so do the Penguins — and their group is far more familiar with each other.
Pick: Penguins Moneyline | Play to +115
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