Pittsburgh Penguins (+100) at New York Rangers (-120)
Tonight’s featured match-up involves a pair of Atlantic division rivals in what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals this spring. Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the red-hot Rangers.
Big things were expected from both these teams in 2013, but the Pens and Rangers have experienced up-and-down starts. The Penguins are fresh off a baffling loss to the Islanders Tuesday night, a game which saw them dismantled by a score of 4-1 on home ice. The Rangers limped out of the gates this year but have recovered recently. New York has reeled of wins in 3 of their past 4 contests, but it’s only going to get harder for the Blueshirts.
New York will be without their heart and soul Captain, Ryan Callahan, for the next two weeks. Callahan is an irreplaceable body in the Rangers’ line-up and will be heavily missed for contests like tonight’s. He plays all situations under head coach John Tortorella and is a great leader. Losing him against the Pens will be a huge hole for the Rangers to try and fill and look for New York to struggle with his absence.
Pittsburgh, on paper, is one of the best teams in the league. The problem thus far is they’ve yet to show that. They enter this contest an angry bunch and should not find motivation to be an issue. The Penguins have surprisingly dropped contests to inferior teams this season, but against squads like the Flyers and Rangers have looked excellent. Look for another stellar road outing from Pittsburgh on Thursday evening.
The Pens dominated the first meeting between these two sides, and forced goaltender Henrik Lundqvist from the net. While King Henrik will surely be better tonight, the Pens have an explosive attack that should be too much for the Rangers. Pittsburgh is 5-0 in the last five meetings with New York, and Pittsburgh will be antsy to get back on the winning road.
PICK = Pittsburgh (+100)
One bonus pick goes tonight as well. Bonus selections are 12-6 thus far in 2013.
Bonus Pick #1: Winnipeg (-110) The Jets have started the season surprisingly well, and have looked very good of late. Though they’re fresh off a loss to Montreal, Winnipeg battled throughout and showed a lot of resiliency in the game to claw back and tie it up late. This seems like a different Jets squad in 2013, one that is capable of winning on the road. They head into Florida, a team that has looked abysmal thus far. The Panthers can’t score, and can’t keep the puck out of their net. Adding insult to injury for the lowly Panthers is that their number 1 centre Stephen Weiss will be out with an injury. That’s a big loss, and look for the Jets to take advantage and continue their run of good play by easily disposing off Florida on Thursday evening.