Penguins vs. Rangers Playoff Series Odds, Preview, Prediction

NHL Playoff Series Odds: Rangers -115/Penguins -105

Odds provided by BetMGM

There were probably some eyebrows raised when the betting odds for this series came out. Given the way these two teams made the playoffs, the Rangers lead in goal, the way the season streaks have turned out, and the fact that the blueshirts have home field advantage, most people walked away assumed that New York would be preferred in this series.

That wasn’t the case, however, as Pittsburgh opened as a -120 favorite before Rangers took some money to make it a bona fide pick ’em. The fact that this series is a pick ’em with New York’s home advantage means the betting market sees Pittsburgh as the stronger team in a vacuum. That’s an idea that many people will be discussing as this series begins.

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Rangers vs. Penguins Playoff Series Preview

In the first half of the season, the Rangers were considered a kind of paper tiger. The Blueshirts averaged in 5-on-5s and the defense was leaking, but Igor Shesterkin played world-level goal scoring and gave Rangers plenty of points on his own. Shesterkin, who is a shoo-in for the Vezina Trophy this season, led the NHL in 53 games this season with a .935 save percentage and +37.2-better-than-expected goals. As a team, the Rangers finished second in the NHL with an average of 2.52 goals, but the fact that they were even that high given their first-half defensive problems is a testament to Shesterkin’s game.

Shesterkin’s play-in goal is key to this series. If he plays like he has for most of the season, the Penguins are in trouble. But if he’s a notch or two below, Pittsburgh’s road to victory opens up.

That’s because the Penguins were the better team this season, going 5-on-5. While the Rangers finished 20th in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals and had just +10 goal difference in 5-on-5, Pittsburgh ranked 12th in 5-on-5 goals and bragged with a goal difference of +27 on evenings.

Part of Pittsburgh’s robust 5-on-5 goal difference is due to Tristan Jarry’s superb first-half in goal, and Jarry is out for that series, but that may not be as big of a problem as members of the media are making it out to be. While Jarry posted stronger numbers than Casey DeSmith overall this season, DeSmith has been on form for quite some time. Since February 1st, DeSmith is up to a savings percentage of 0.927 and a GSAx of +5.37.

Penguins Rangers series
Sydney Crosby
NHLI via Getty Images

Those numbers aren’t nearly as high as Shesterkin’s, but these kinds of goalies give Pittsburgh a chance in this series. No one is going to ask DeSmith to outplay Shesterkin, just keep Pittsburgh in the series long enough for his 5v5 advantage to make a difference.

And Pittsburgh must win the 5-on-5 to stand a chance in this best-of-7. The Penguins’ third-place penalty should help dampen New York’s fourth-place power play, but Pittsburgh’s PP has struggled for consistency this season, ending up in the bottom third of the circuit.

Rangers have steadily improved throughout this season and have coped well with the Penguins in the relay series, but bookies consider this best-of-7 series a virtual coin toss. On the surface, that might not agree with most people expecting the blueshirts to be the favorite, but looking beneath the surface shows that the margins are razor sharp in this series.

Rangers/Penguins Betting Prediction: Happen Penguins vs. Rangers Playoff Series Odds, Preview, Prediction


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