The New York Rangers gave New York sports betting an exciting season and enter the 2022 NHL Playoffs in second place in the Metropolitan Division. That has earned the Rangers the right to open their playoffs Tuesday at home against the division's third seed, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite the Rangers’ stronger regular season and the home ice advantage, the series is currently a pick ‘em at DraftKings Sportsbook New York with both teams -110 to advance to the second round.
BetMGM New York has the same odds on the series and has the Rangers +1600 to win the Stanley Cup. The Penguins are +2000.
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Sizing Up Rangers-Penguins
New York is led by goalie Igor Shesterkin, a favorite to win the Vezina Trophy in NHL betting. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is without its starting goalie, Tristan Jarry, for at least the first game of the series and likely more, with a lower body injury.
Goaltending was already the Rangers’ biggest advantage in this matchup. Shesterkin led all starting goalies in goals against average and save percentage in the regular season and looks to bring that form into the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
New York beat Pittsburgh in three of their four regular-season matchups and the Penguins could only muster four total goals in those games. With the tighter checking in the playoffs, goals will continue to be at a premium on both sides, which makes goaltending even more important than ever.
Rangers Lining Up on Offense
Bringing the bulk of the scoring to this matchup with Pittsburgh are forwards Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and 50-goal scorer Chris Kreider.
Pittsburgh is one of the strongest defensive teams in the league, especially at five on five, so it will be tough for the Rangers’ offense to generate chances. When they do get opportunities, they have the talent to put the puck in the net, especially against Penguins backup goaltender Casey DeSmith.
In Sunday’s practice, the Rangers had Frank Vatrano on the top line with Kreider and Zibanejad, a spot where he had success to end the season. Ryan Strome centers Panarin and trade deadline acquisition Andrew Copp on the second line and the youthful trio of Filip Chytil, Kappo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere were together on the third.
All of these lines have the ability to create offense and if someone on that third line breaks out over the course of the playoffs this has the potential to be a deep, dangerous attack.
The youth in the bottom six could be taken advantage of by Pittsburgh, but New York has several players who can bounce up and down the lineup to add some stability if needed.
Rangers Hope Defense Is Not Weak Link
On defense, the Rangers can be exposed and Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and the rest of Pittsburgh’s offensive stars certainly will look to do so early and often.
If the regular season was any indication, Pittsburgh likely will control the play more often than not throughout the series, leading the Rangers to rely on Shesterkin as they have all year long. Shesterkin was up to the task of shutting down the Penguins all season and needs to keep that play going because the defense corps definitely will allow chances.
The biggest edge New York gives up to Pittsburgh is playoff experience. The Penguins’ core players all have experienced deep playoff runs with lots of success. This hasn’t helped them over the past couple of seasons as they have disappointed come playoff time.
The Rangers didn’t even make the playoffs last year and have accelerated their rebuild a bit with their great success this season. The regular season has already made the year a success as a whole, but if the Rangers can get past Pittsburgh and get some valuable experience for their young core they will be in a great position going forward. And if Igor Shesterkin continues to play as he has all year long, a deep playoff run certainly could happen.