Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers (5/3/22) Betting Odds, Prediction, Line Combination, Starting Goalies

Here we go…

The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers face off in the No. 2 vs No. 3 matchup in the East, and these two are almost indistinguishable from an analysis standpoint. They both finished with 100+ points, a 40+ goal differential, and both finished 10+ games above .500 at home and away.

Therefore, we should be in for a very tight series.

Or are we?

There are some concerning metrics regarding the Rangers, which is making me think twice before taking them in this series.

That being said, let’s dive into the betting odds and my prediction for this Game 1.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers Betting Odds

Again, I’m worried a bit about the Rangers. But there are two reasons New York is favored in this spot.

First, the Rangers are at home, where they went an astounding 27-10-4.

Second, the Rangers have the best goalie in the NHL. Igor Shesterkin stood on his head all season, leading the league in Goals Saved Above Expected (34.1) and Wins Above Replacement (5.68).

It’s still worth wondering if we should back Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, and the Penguins offense to get past Shesterkin. The Penguins scored the second-most goals in the East this season (269) behind Guentzel and Crosby’s combined 168 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins Analysis

Pittsburgh finished the season sixth in the NHL in Expected Goals (274) and was deadly enough on offense to keep up with the league’s deadliest forces.

However, they’ve managed just four goals in the last five games against the Rangers, dropping three in a row. Crosby can still deal, and Pittsburgh isn’t short on weapons. But it’s clear they haven’t gotten past New York’s net tender just yet.

The Penguins were also much weaker on the Power Play and Penalty Kill. They fell outside the top-10 in both situations in terms of Expected Goal Differential, while the Rangers were more efficient with a skater up or down.

But you can put Pittsburgh’s 5-on-5 unit against any in the league, and they’ll often come out on top.

However, it does seem like the Penguins did falter a bit down the stretch, with their Expected Goal Differential flailing through the final 10 games.

Screen Shot 2022 05 02 at 4.34.50 PM

Image credit: Money Puck

There’s nothing wrong with Tristan Jarry, who finished in the top half of the league in most advanced goalie statistics. He splits time with Casey DeSmith, who was moderately worse but made due as a second-stringer.

New York Rangers Analysis

There’s plenty to like about the Rangers. Their 5-on-5 unit is not one of them.

In full-power situations, the Rangers scored 158 goals and allowed 148. But their Expected Goal Differential was -17.99, which places them 23rd in the NHL in that category.

Because of that, Money Puck has the Rangers at 18th in their power rankings. That’s concerning.

But the Rangers got here on the back of their uneven units and their goalie.

In terms of the Power Play, that unit was first in Expected Goal Rate (91.7%) and was sixth in Expected Goal Differential (+42.6).

In 5-on-4 situations, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider put up a combined 41 Power Play goals while Artemi Panarin threw in 32 Power Play assists.

Panarin is one of the deadliest playmakers in hockey. He dropped off 74 assists (fourth in NHL) and almost cracked the 100-point mark for the first time in his career (his 96 was a career-high). Look for Panarin to make things happen for the Rangers in this series.

The Rangers held their own on the Penalty Kill as well. They allowed the fifth-fewest goals skating 4-on-5 (148), although their 165.23 Expected Goals Against shows their due for a bit of regression. The latter stat placed the Rangers 13th in the league.

There’s not much more to say about Shesterkin, who leads the league in save percentage this season (.935). What’s more impressive is that – through his three seasons – nobody has a higher save percentage in NHL history than Shesterkin (minimum 100 games played). He’s currently six points ahead of 16-season legend Dominik Hasek.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers Picks & Prediction

My picks: Penguins ML (+110 at DraftKings), Under 5.5 (-114 at FanDuel)

This is such a tough matchup to handicap. The Rangers have an amazing goalie with a decent defense in front of them.

The key for the Rangers will be converting their Power Play opportunities, as the Penguins will out-skate them 5-on-5.

However, the Penguins don’t commit penalties. Pittsburgh finished second-to-last in penalty minutes this season (253), with only Dallas spending less time in the box.

Money Puck’s probabilities say the Penguins with this game about 49.4% of the time, which gives us some slight value at anything better than +110. I’ll bet the Penguins there.

One bet I cannot ignore is the under. The Rangers blank teams at home, and three of the last four games between these two have gone under. Moreover, the sharp money is coming in on the under, with that total receiving only 46% of the bets by 85% of the tickets.

I’ll play both these angles in this enormous Game 1.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers Starting Goalies & Line Combination

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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