NHL Hockey Betting: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Hockey Betting:  New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins

The Stanley Cup playoffs get underway tonight with an Eastern Conference first round matchup between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers held the second place spot in the Metropolitan Division and overall Eastern Conference behind the Washington Capitals for most of the year before a late surge by the Penguins relegated them to third. Pittsburgh enters the playoffs as the hottest team in hockey with 11 wins in their last 13 games. The Rangers did little more than ‘tread water’ down the stretch with 6 wins and 6 losses in their final 12 regular season games.

In Pittsburgh at the moment the big question is goaltending. For most of the season, it wasn’t even an issue–starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was having a great season. That was before he went out with a concussion late in the regular season. The good news at the time was that the Penguins didn’t miss a beat–he was replaced by 21 year old rookie Matt Murray who was absolutely torrid after his AHL callup. Murray went 9-2, 2.00 goals against average and a .923 save percentage winning seven straight games during that run. Unfortunately, he suffered what was being described as an ‘upper body injury’ in the final game of the season. It was later revealed to be a head injury of some sort and he’s officially listed as ‘day to day’. Fluery is almost certainly starting Game One–he did the most work in practice on Tuesday and was the first off the ice (hockey protocol gives this honor to the starting goalie) but he’s *officially* being listed as a ‘game time decision’. Jeff Zatkoff is the backup goaltender and a cut below either Murray or Fleury qualitatively. Pittsburgh also has 20 year old Tristan Jarry on the roster–he was called up from the team’s AHL affiliate to give them even more options in net.

The Rangers will go with Henrik Lundqvist in net. New York has played well against the Penguins in recent years with a 14-10 record overall during the last three seasons including 8-4 in Pittsburgh. The Penguins won three of four during the regular season including the last three meetings–all in the month of March. Penguins just the better team at this point and assuming that Fleury can go should get the win here.