Pittsburgh vs New York NHL Betting Guide
The Metropolitan Division’s second-place (Pittsburgh) and third-place (New York Rangers) are meeting in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. The series is set to open Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. This marks the third time in the last three seasons that these two teams will take the ice against one another in the playoffs. The Pens have some uncertainty about that lineup coming into the playoffs, but they did win 14 of their last 16 tilts. The Rangers come in with tons of postseason experience; since 2012, they have found the Eastern Conference finals twice and the Stanley Cup finals once. Find out the updated NHL betting lines here.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers NHL Betting Guide
Why should you bet on Pittsburgh to win?
The Penguins torched their fellow Metropolitan Division competition this year, going 19-9-2 in the division. The team put Mike Sullivan behind the bench after the first 30 games brought putrid results, and in the next 54 contests the team scored 3.24 goals per game — 3.56 goals per game at home. Phil Kessel has finally heated up, scoring 12 points in the last nine games of the season. Evgeni Malkin did return from a shoulder injury in the season’s closing days but did have to leave Saturday’s game after a collision in the goal mouth, leaving some questions for Pittsburgh to answer. In goal, Matt Murray has been more than solid, taking the place of Marc-Andre Fleury, who is missing time after a second concussion this year. These factors could combine to give the Penguins a series win over the Blueshirts.
Why should you put your money on the Rangers to win?
The reason why the Rangers faltered down the stretch had to do with defense. They started way too many games by giving one- and two-goal leads, and you just can’t win regularly in the NHL like that. They have a bunch of forwards who can score in bunches, so they need find ways to let them build synergy. The Ranger captain, Ryan McDonagh, is out with a hand injury but needs to return quickly. Dan Girardi will have to play better so that Eric Staal can slide into a productive spot. It has been Girardi’s failings (among other things) that has kept Staal from contributing even more to the Rangers since he came over from Carolina at the trade deadline. Winger Rick Nash (bone bruise) will need to up his game and get back to full strength. Staal and Nash have a combined five goals in the last 20 game, and that will have to change. The key will be grabbing turnovers and making the Pens pay.
Expert Pick and Final Series Prediction
New York will be riding goalie Henrik Lundqvist once again. He posted a .920 save percentage for the season, but he has shown that he can put the Rangers on his back in the playoffs. The Penguins are red-hot right now, but I like the Rangers to find another gear — like they did in the last two weeks of the regular season — and steel themselves against the Penguin attack. I’m predicting the New York Rangers in six.