This isn’t the most fun series on paper in the Metropolitan Division between the Rangers and Penguins but we could get some good grinds of hockey games between these two teams.
The Rangers finished the regular season in second place in the Metro with a 52-24-6 record. Igor Shesterkin was easily the best goalie in the NHL this season and guaranteed Vezina winner with a 2.07 GAA, .935 save percentage and 6 shutouts. With his play in goal and fantastic defense, the Rags allowed the second fewest goals in the NHL this season, an average of only 2.49 goals per game. They’ve allowed an eleventh fewest in the NHL average of 30.8 shots per game. Their penalty kill is the seventh best in the NHL at 82.3%. Offensively, New York hasn’t done anything all that special, averaging 3.05 goals per game (16th in the NHL) but they have played much better on the offensive end of the ice in the second half of the season. The Rangers have only generated a fifth fewest in the NHL average of 29.2 shots per game but they’re pretty efficient with those shots, with an eighth highest in the NHL shooting percentage of 10.5%. The Rags power play has been very good, scoring on 25.2% of those chances, fourth most in the NHL.
The Penguins won three of their last five regular season games but limped into the playoffs with only seven wins in their last 18 games of the season, finishing in third place in the Metropolitan Division with a 46-25-11 record. Pittsburgh’s been solid this season on both ends of the ice. They’ve scored an average of 3.28 goals per game, eleventh most in the NHL and generated the sixth most shots in hockey, an average of 34.7 per game with a 9.4% shooting percentage. The core of the Penguins offense is fantastic, lead by Sidney Crosby who had over a point per game (84 points, 31 goals, 53 assists in 69 games) along with Jake Guentzel (84 points, 40 goals, 44 assists in 76 games). The Pens power play hasn’t been great, scoring on just 20.2% of their chances. The Penguins defense and goaltending this season has been very good as well, allowing a fifth fewest in the NHL average of 2.71 goals per game. Tristan Jarry had a great season for the Pens in goal with a 2.42 GAA and .919 save percentage, but he’s out injured with a broken foot and will miss at least the first two games of this series at a minimum. In his absence, the Penguins will have to go with Casey DeSmith in goal. DeSmith wasn’t great this season for them in his backup role with a 2.79 GAA and .914 save percentage but he definitely improved in the later stretch of the season. The Penguins were the second least penalized team in the NHL this season behind Dallas and when they did get penalties, they killed off a third best in the NHL 84.4% of them.
During the regular season, the Rangers went 3-1 against the Penguins this year, winning the last three. The Pens won the first game they played on February 26th in a 1-0 shutout at home. The Rangers answered back with a big 5-1 win at home in MSG on March 25th, grinded out a 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on March 29th and then Igor Shesterkin waved goodbye to the Pens after a 3-0 shutout win at home on April 7th.
The way the Rangers win is that they drain out the energy of who they’re playing against and with Shesterkin in goal going up against DeSmith, I think the goaltending gives them the edge to win this series. I will take the Rangers to win the series for 2.5 units at a solid price of -118. I’d expect this series likely goes six games with the veteran offense for the Penguins to take over and win a few games but not enough to bet on any props on the series length.
I’ll be looking at a lot of unders in this series, especially if Jarry comes back. With Tristan Jarry still out for the Penguins, I really like the Rags to win Game 1 at home in MSG. I’ll go with 1.5 units on the Rangers ML along with a unit on the under 6.
I don’t see either of these teams making a run to the Cup, so no futures on either team in this series.
2.5u Rangers (-118)
Game 1 Bets
1.5u Rangers ML (-136)
1u Rangers/Penguins under 6 (-131)
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