The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking more like two-time defending Stanley Cup champions of late. The Penguins have won four of their last five games and they are now right with Washington for the lead in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins will be road favorites in this contest against a New York Rangers team that is out of playoff contention. The Penguins have won 7 of the last 10 meetings in this series against New York. Let’s look at this contest and NHL picks.
This war on the ice will go down Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden. The game will be televised live on NBCSN.
We'll have NHL odds at BookMaker.eu available for this and every game on the NHL Wednesday schedule.
The Penguins have surged recently thanks in large part to the play of Evgeni Malkin, who is in the mix for the Art Ross Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s leading scorer. He could also be a contender to win the Hart Trophy, the award for the league’s MVP. He is playing as well as he ever has and reminding people that he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2009 with 36 points in 24 playoff games. Malkin has 39 goals and 87 points this season. He is one point behind Nikita Kucherov for the league lead and he is just one goal behind Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine for most goals in the NHL. No player in the NHL has more points or goals than Malkin since January 1st. Malkin said that confidence is everything for him this season. “Confidence,” Malkin said to the media, “No injury. I play all year. I feel it. If you score every one or two games, you feel so much better.”
The Penguins are just 14-21 on the road this season, with 19 games going over, 15 going under the total, with one push. They are scoring 3.2 goals per game and giving up about 3 per contest.
The Rangers were just 18-17 in their first 35 home games, with 20 games going over the total, 14 going under, with one push. They are scoring about 2.8 goals per game and giving up 3.1 per contest.
The Rangers have no incentive to win games, as they would be better off falling in the standings and getting a better draft pick. New York has gotten good play from a couple of their newcomers, as Ryan Spooner has 10 points in six games, and Vladislav Namestnikov is starting to get comfortable, but there is no question that the Rangers are in rebuilding mode.
The Penguins have the top power play in the league at almost 26% and they are 12th in penalty killing at about 81%. The Rangers are 16th on the power play at about 20%, while they are 7th in penalty killing at about 83%.
These teams have met three times this season, with the Penguins taking two of three. It has been a high scoring series lately, with 8 of the last 10 going over the total. The Penguins have won 8 of the last 10 in New York, with three of the last four going over.
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The Penguins are definitely the better team and the Rangers have basically packed it in for the season. It also doesn’t hurt that Pittsburgh has not played since Sunday, while the Rangers played on Monday against Carolina. The trends are also heavily in favor of the Penguins. I will lay the price and take Pittsburgh in this contest. I also can’t ignore the very strong trends on the total, as almost all of the recent meetings between the teams have been high scoring. I will also go over the total in this contest.
NHL Odds: Penguins 5, Rangers 2
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