NHL Predictions: New York vs Pittsburgh Futures
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers will meet in the post season for the second year in a row. Roles have been flipped this time around as the Rangers come in as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and the Penguins are the heavy underdog. Cappers Picks will provide NHL picks throughout the playoffs so check back before every round.
NHL Playoffs Betting
New York vs Pittsburgh
Series Odds: Penguins +190 / Rangers -220
Game 1: Thursday, April 16 at Madison Square Garden, 7:00 pm EST
Today’s NHL Lines
Today’s NHL Matchups
***2015 NHL BONUSES***
GAME 2: AT NYR SAT APR 18, 8:00 PM ET
GAME 3: AT PIT MON APR 20, 7:00 PM ET
GAME 4: AT PIT WED APR 22, 7:00 PM ET
GAME 5: AT NYR FRI APR 24, TBD
GAME 6: AT PIT SUN APR 26, TBD
GAME 7: AT NYR TUE APR 28, TBD
Turn back the calendar about two months and this was a playoff series that could have been predicted, but with Pittsburgh as the one seed and the Rangers coming in as the underdog once again. The Rangers steadily built towards the post season and brought home the Presidents Trophy this year, securing home ice throughout the playoffs. Pittsburgh meanwhile looked lost for much of the latter parts of the season and needed a win over Buffalo in the final game of the regular season just to lock up the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Pittsburgh was a mess over their final 20 or so games and were very fortunate to have had a stellar first half of the season that provided them with enough cushion to slide into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.
The Pens limped to the playoffs with a 3-5-2 record in their final 10 games of the season, and since the beginning of March went just 8-12-1, hardly the record of a playoff team. The biggest issue for the Pens has been their inability to score goals which is very surprising for a team with the talent and depth that they have.
Sidney Crosby can’t shoulder much blame as he was about the only Penguin over the past month that has posted points on a consistent basis.
Coach Mike Johnston has had a hard time finding a match for Crosby on the top line and has experimented with a number of combinations and players like David Perron, Blake Comeau and most recently Daniel Winnik. None of those players are even close to the level that Crosby plays at and it has slowed the offense as Sid just hasn’t been able to click with any of them.
Evgeni Malkin has returned and should be healthy for this series and Johnston may have to resort to pairing him and Crosby early in this series if the offense goes stagnant. Role players like Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling are going to have to be huge in this series for the Pens to have a chance as they will likely need to resort to overloading one line in order to find offense against the Rangers.
Patric Hornqvist has shown flashes this season but most of that came on Crosby’s line and he may end up getting bumped in favour of Malkin at some point and will have to find a way to make things happen without arguably the league’s best player as his center.
This team certainly has the ability to score when they’re clicking, but they have been in a bad run of form for some time and there’s nothing to lead one to believe that they’ll just snap out of it over night. Goal scoring concerns aside, there’s the perennial question mark that is Marc Andre Fleury in goal. By all accounts Fleury had a great year, posting a 34-20-9 record, 2.32 GAA and .920 SV% to go along with a league leading 10 shutouts. The playoff struggles of Fleury are well documented however and “Flower” has shown that he tends to wilt under pressure at this time of the year.
This team was almost the polar opposite of the Penguins this season. Early on they stumbled as goalie Henrik Lundqvist had his typical slow start and the team couldn’t seem to gel. The Rangers were on the outside looking in as late as December, but once the calendar turned to 2015 this team hit the switch and were far and away the best team in the NHL for the bulk of the last three months.
There is star power on this team with the likes of Lundqvist in goal and Rick Nash up front who potted a career best 42 goals this season. Where this team is dangerous however is their ability to attack in waves with three solid lines that can all score. The players on this team may not be household names, but many of them quietly put together very good season.
Derick Brassard trailed only Nash for the team lead in points, putting up a solid 60 point campaign. Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis both had 50+ point seasons at 55 and 52 respectively. Mats Zuccarelllo was not far behind at 49 points, while Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes posted 46 and 45 points.
The blue line is pretty stacked with veterans like Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle, along with captain Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Kevin Klein should be fit to return from an arm injury for this series to round out a very tough defense core.
In goal there aren’t really many questions to ask. Henrik Lundqvist is still one of the best in the game and when he’s on he’s nearly unbeatable and will give the Rangers a chance to win every night.
King Hank pretty much carried last year’s Rangers team to the Stanley Cup finals and that wasn’t nearly as good a team as he has in front of him this year. Lundqvist will feel a lot less pressure as the weight won’t be solely on him to win games, and that should translate to him playing at a very high level.
Rangers vs. Penguins Series Pick
The Rangers stormed back from a 3-1 series deficit a year ago to knock off the Penguins in the Eastern Conference semi finals. They shouldn’t need the heroics this year as they are just playing much better hockey than the Penguins are right now. New York won the season series with Pittsburgh by a count of 3-1 this year and outscored them 16-8.
There’s not much reason to believe that the Rangers can’t win this series fairly easily and this should be the quickest first round series. Go with the Rangers to win this one in five games.