Free NHL Picks: Rangers at Penguins Odds
by George Monroy - 2/6/2014
The Pittsburgh Penguins are ready to head into the Olympic break on top of the Eastern Conference standings with 82 points. Pittsburgh currently has a seven-point lead over the Boston Bruins for the top seed in the East and may be still feeling the sting from last year’s disappointing playoff exit—a sweep at the hands of the Bruins, no less. The squad is ranked near the top of every major team statistic and is on the short list of favorites to win this season’s Stanley Cup title.
The New York Rangers are finally hitting a hot streak after starting the season on a ridiculously slow pace. New York ended January with a 10-5 record, which was the team’s best month of hockey all season. The squad has moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division (behind Pittsburgh) and sixth in the entire Eastern Conference. The three-week Olympic Games break may be the worst thing to happen to New York after spending the last month building confidence and momentum. Let’s take a closer look at Friday’s matchup with predictions and analysis.
Rangers at Penguins Betting Story Lines
Pittsburgh routed the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night with a four-goal victory that started with a spectacular goal from team captain and points leader Sidney Crosby. The former MVP raced past two defenders early in the second period and stuck a beautiful glove-side goal into the net to break a 1-1 tie and start the eventual blowout. The goal was Crosby’s first score in his last five matchups and broke the second-longest drought of the season for the eight-year veteran.
Staring goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury allowed only one goal on 25 shot attempts during Pittsburgh’s matchup against Buffalo and only eight goals on 132 attempts during his last five outings. Overall the team gives up an average of 2.4 goals per game, which is ranked fifth in the NHL, and scores 3.1 per game, which is ranked fourth. Pittsburgh has won four of its last five matchups and hasn’t lost two games in a row since November.
New York forced itself back into the playoff race after an excellent month of hockey. The team is currently on a four-game winning streak and has won seven of its last nine games (prior to its Thursday night matchup against Edmonton). Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist continues to play excellent hockey since returning from a lower-body injury earlier in the season.
Lundqvist has allowed only eight goals on 145 shot attempts, and along with the backup goaltenders, which are also playing well, has been a major part of New York’s midseason turnaround. The squad’s offense has also been fantastic over the last month and in particular over the team’s last four games. New York managed to score 18 goals during its four-game winning streak.
Rangers at Penguins NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
Pittsburgh opened at a -168 favorite over the +153 underdog Rangers at BetOnline. The total was set at five goals, with the “over” being favored at -131. Pittsburgh is 4-1 over its last five overall matchups and 8-3 over its last 11. The team has won five straight road games but is 3-3 over its last six matchups at home. Pittsburgh has gone “under” in four of its last six overall games.
New York is 5-0 over its last five road games and 4-0 in its last four overall matchups. The team is 6-1 in its recent matchups against the Eastern Conference and 5-1 over its last six against the Metropolitan Division. New York has gone under in nine of its last 13 matchups. Head-to-head, the home team is 5-1 over the last six meetings between the two teams, while Pittsburgh has won 10 of the last 12 games.
Free NHL Picks: Rangers at Penguins Predictions
Both squads have been playing fantastic hockey as of late. However, now that New York is on everybody’s radar with its drastically improved play, expect Pittsburgh to enter Friday’s matchup ready to put an end to the Rangers’ streak. Pittsburgh may be ready to set a playoff tone against New York by playing a hard-hitting brand of hockey. Both team’s continue to dominate defensively, so the best wager to make on this matchup is taking the under and a positive payout.
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