Will the young lions finally rise up and defeat the elders and stake their place as the new kings? Online betting odds don’t think so as the Pittsburgh Penguins are favorites in welcoming the upstart New York Rangers.
Both teams have had some rough showings. The Penguins have allowed the second-most goals per game (4.5) in the league while the Rangers have dropped two of their three games.
These are franchises in different stages of their respective lifespan. But I’m thinking this is a changing of the guard regardless of what odds say.
Rangers vs Penguins
Rangers: Glimpse of the Future
The Rangers got a short and bitter taste of the postseason in the NHL bubble when the Hurricanes swept them. They return wiser and better with their young star LW Alexis Lafrenière. So far, it’s been mixed results.
New York showed flashes of what it’s capable of by blowing out its crosstown rival, the Islanders, 5-0. But the Rangers have lost their other two games including a 4-0 shutout against the same Islanders for their season opener.
The good news is, the Rangers are excelling in 5-on-5 play ranking fourth in the league for percent (54.6%) and eighth in scoring chances against (53) among teams that have played at least three games.
A big part of their success has also been the solid play between the pipes where Alex Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin have combined for a 90.5 save percent (just above league average). We have a small sample size, but the Rangers are better than their 1-2-0 record indicates.
Penguins: The Curtains are Barely Open
After nearly two decades of being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender by NHL odds, the Pittsburgh Penguins could finally be declining permanently. Every season since after winning the Cup in 2017, pundits have wondered when and how Pittsburgh will decline and this might finally be it.
Sidney Crosby is still arguably the best hockey player in the world. His three goals and five points both lead the team as does his 0.7 point shares. LW Brandon Tanev has also been a pleasant surprise with two goals and he’s the only active player who isn’t on the negative in the plus/minus.
But beyond Crosby and Tanev, Pittsburgh is ice cold. Evgeni Malkin has one point and is a -3. Leading defenseman Kris Letang is also a -3 and both goalies, Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry have been lit up in the net with a combined 82.1 save percent, last in the NHL.
Pittsburgh has shown chronic problems in the last few seasons, especially on the defensive end. Yes, they start the season slow then go on a midseason run and clinch a playoff spot. But right now, they’re a shell of their best selves.
Young Rangers Can Exploit Slow Pens
The Rangers are underdogs per BetUS sportsbook and most NHL hockey lines. The Penguins, despite struggling, are still the more talented veteran team here. Malkin and Letang are icy and there are goaltending woes, but if Pittsburgh “put it together”, they could run the Rangers out of the PPG Paints Arena.
But we’ve also seen this song and dance forever. Pittsburgh starts the season slow, but the odds would still favor them just based on potential. New York hasn’t been the most inconsistent team, but they can be just as skillful on offense and have more stability in net.
It’s unlikely that either DeSmith or Jarry keeps playing terribly, but the Rangers are aggressive and hungry. They lead the league in shots on goal (35.3) and are seventh in scoring chances for percent (55.8%).
I believe the odds are a bit too kind to Pittsburgh here and a lot of it is based on their name value. This should be closer to a pick’em and in terms of betting picks, I lean on the underdog Rangers here. Find similar odds fr