NHL Odds, Betting Preview and Prediction for Rangers vs. Penguins (Saturday, Feb. 26)
Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin and his teammates.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers in Saturday's NHL action.
- The Penguins enter this affair as solid -170 ML favorites, but Nicholas Martin has found plenty of value on the road underdogs.
- Check out below why he's backing New York to pull off the upset victory.
Rangers vs. Penguins Odds
|Over/Under||5.5 (-120o / +100u)|
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.|
After a very satisfying victory at Madison Square Garden over the rival Washington Capitals, the New York Rangers will head in to PPG Paints Arena on Saturday looking to find another tough win over another Metropolitan Division opponent in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That said, can goaltender Igor Shesterkin and the Rangers compound the Penguins’ misery and deal them a fourth consecutive loss?
New York Rangers
In four contests after from a long layoff, Shesterkin has absolutely dominated in goal and has solidified his position as the runaway Vezina Trophy favorite. He also has himself in the mix for the Hart Trophy.
One thing I have noticed over these contests is New York is very comfortable allowing head-on shots to Shesterkin with a shooter coming down a single lane. The most clear example of this was a play against Ottawa in which Mika Zibanejad clearly let’s the shooter walk down just outside the dots.
They have all day, just to make sure he sealed off the passing lanes, because of a firm belief that the play wasn’t enough of a threat to actually score.
So, similar to how I feel Montreal played last year en route to the Stanley Cup final, by true definition of the run of play the Rangers still appear middling. However, by not allowing the extreme defensive breakdowns they’re learning to play with their ridiculously talented net-minder, and that combination has produced a ton of wins of late.
This concept was evidenced Wednesday, as Shesterkin had the answer on several mid-range shots from the slot from Washington, but given that they didn’t come as one-timers or with him forced to move much laterally, he was able to answer the bell on all of them.
And unsurprisingly, the Capitals’ lone goal came on a play after an Evgeny Kuznetsov centering feed from the wall connected with Alex Ovechkin, allowing Shesterkin no chance given the movement needed.
Behind this, New York has controlled play to an expected goals share of 51.29 over their last five games, so considering the wildly successful results the team have managed with average to poor play-driving numbers, the results could be special should they continue to control more of the play.
A huge question for this one will be if Shesterkin gets another start, so waiting for confirmation toward that is worthy of waiting to make a play on this game.
Pittsburgh has lulled its way to a 4-4-2 record throughout February, so the recent three-game slide is something it will desperately looking to snap out of in this contest.
A 56.28 xG rate during that span is one indication that things might get better, but I think fans and media following this team would be the first to tell you that is favorable, especially to the overall defensive play.
Those concerns were evident in a shaky, 5-4 overtime defeat against the lowly Flyers. And it came to fruition much more so against two teams who don’t make scoring so easy in Carolina and Toronto before the contest which was obviously the worst of the bunch in Thursday’s 6-1 loss to the Devils.
Tristan Jarry’s efforts have taken a notable dip as well, which is concerning because the level of turnaround compared to last year’s results was always somewhat surprising, even with how wildly hard to predict goaltending can be.
This is a huge game for the Pittsburgh to try to bounce-back after a trio of losses and middling play prior to that, but with New York continuing to post excellent results of late and with more acceptable play-driving numbers, I feel more comfortable backing an underdog in considerably better form.
You simply don’t turn it around just because you say the right things or try harder. And I think outside that there’s more to like with the Rangers’ current game state than the Penguins, considering the difference in price. It simply seems far harder to produce goals against the Shesterkin and the Rangers than it does off of Jarry and the Penguins right now.
New York is playing with a ton of energy, and although all the things the team is doing well, it’s mainly just emphasized by the play of Shesterkin.
So, at +140 odds on the moneyline and skating as a group very tough to score on, I see some value backing the Rangers, but will actually wait to place this wager upon confirmation Shesterkin starts.
Pick: New York ML (+140) | Play to +120 with Shesterkin