Pittsburgh at NY Rangers NHL Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info

Posted by Kenny Bell on Thursday,March 30, 2017 9:47, EST in

It’s a potential first-round playoff preview in the Eastern Conference – or more specifically the Metropolitan Division – when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the New York Rangers in the marquee NHL game of Friday night. The Blueshirts will be NHL betting favorites.

Pittsburgh at NY Rangers NHL Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info

When: Friday, March 31, 7 PM ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, NYC
TV: ROOT, MSG+, NHL Center Ice
Stream: NHL.tv
RadioPittsburgh / New York
Opening NHL Lines: Rangers favored by TBA; total of 5.5

Why Bet on the Penguins?

Pittsburgh could finish anywhere from first (and with the most points in the entire NHL) to third in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers are almost surely going to finish fourth and take the East’s top wild-card spot. So there are still numerous playoff scenarios for both teams.

The Pens remain without their second-best player in winger Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), although he skated before the Penguins’ practice earlier this week. He missed a seventh straight game Wednesday in Chicago. Malkin had 33 goals and 39 assists in 62 games. Injuries have plagued the center’s career, as he has not played in 70-plus outings since the 2011-12 season.

“Our medical staff has a good handle on it,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s going through a process both on and off the ice. We’re encouraged and we’re hopeful we’ll get him back sooner than later.”

The Pens could get back center Jake Guentzel from a concussion on Friday. Defenseman Ron Hainsey (upper body) hasn’t played in the last six games and is isted as week-to- week. Hainsey hopes to be ready for the start of the playoffs, so he can play in his first career postseason contest.

Marc-Andre Fleury started Wednesday vs. Chicago, so that makes me think Matt Murray will go here. He wasn’t good last time out, allowing five goals on 32 shots in a 6-2 loss against the Flyers on Sunday. Pittsburgh has been decimated with injuries, so the Pens aren’t at full strength, but Murray has been inconsistent, particularly to his glove side, in the last month. Although he is 5-2- 1 in March, Murray also owns just a .910 save percentage and a 2.86 GAA. If Murray doesn’t get going, Fleury could take over full-time even though Murray was a big reason the Pens won last year’s Stanley Cup.

Why Bet on the Rangers?

New York is essentially locked into its playoff seeding so has little to play for. The Rangers completed a three-game trip through California on Tuesday at 1-2 following a 5-4 overtime loss in San Jose. The Sharks had lost six straight games. Brent Burns scored a power-play goal 3:10 into overtime and the Sharks snapped their longest skid in six years. Chris Tierney tied the game with his second goal with 2:15 to play in regulation after San Jose had blown a 3-1 lead.

The scuffling Rangers wrapped up a playoff trip, their seventh in a row, by earning one point. New York lost for the fourth time in five games. J.T. Miller scored his second goal early in the third period to put New York up 4-3. Derek Stepan and Jesper Fast scored less than two minutes apart bridging the second intermission to erase a 3-1 deficit.

Miller now has 22 goals for the season, but he was coming off a four-game pointless streak. He now has four multi-goal and 12 multi-point games this year. Stepan has scored a goal in each of his last three games and is on a four-game point streak. That gives him 16 goals and 52 points in 77 games this season Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves but lost his second straight start after missing seven games with a hip injury. In his last 10 games, Lundqvist has accumulated a record of 4-4- 2, but his save percentage has been respectable with a .911.

“Coming out of breaks I haven’t been at my best I guess,” said Lundqvist. “I need a couple of games to get going. I need to get into a flow where my focus is good and I’m moving better. I’m not gonna look for any excuses. I need to be on top of my game.”

Pittsburgh at NY Rangers Expert Pick: NY Rangers

New York beat Pittsburgh in the first meeting this season but was blown out the next two. The Blueshirts will even the season series. The teams then close the regular season against one another.