The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers had the day off on New Years, after meetings with the Wild and Blues on Monday. It was the same result, with 1-goal wins for both squads. The Pens ousted the Wild, 3-2, and the Rangers had a rare positive showing on the road with a 2-1 win over the Blues. Henrik Lundqvist stole another game for the Rangers as he stopped 39 of 40 shots.
That’s been the game plan for the Rangers more often than not in 2018-19. Relying on Lundqvist to keep this team afloat isn’t the best recipe for success, but he’s doing his best in what is a rebuilding era in NYC. He would benefit a playoff team who is looking for a goaltender considerable. However, without waiving his no-trade clause, Henrik isn’t going anywhere, not that he wants to leave New York.
The Rangers are going to have to rely on Lundqvist after the trade deadline. There is no reason for them to keep some of their older talent in New York. It’s going to hurt for the moment, but long-term it should help the Rangers. That doesn’t help the 36-year-old Lundqvist out any, who likely isn’t going to be around for the conclusion of the rebuilding phase.
In any event, despite that, the Rangers have played hard this season. They’re a 17-14-5 a hockey team and this is in the midst of rebuilding, so give credit to the players on this roster who are coming to play hard most nights.
They welcome a Penguins team who have seemed to find their swagger again. After stumbling out of the gates, the Pens are suddenly at 21-12-4 and playing like a contender in the Eastern Conference. It’s going to be a highly competitive playoff, especially in the Eastern Conference. We’ll see if the Rangers can end their six-game winning streak to start 2019. Head below for our free Penguins vs. Rangers pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. N.Y. Rangers Pick
The biggest upside for the Penguins lately has been their defence and goaltending. It was all out of sorts for over a month in Pittsburgh. That’s been looking better by tenfold recently. During their six-game winning streak, the Penguins have allowed just 1.16 goals per game. Along with the six wins in a row, the Pens are winners in eight of their last nine games.
Since losing two games in a row to start December, they haven’t lost consecutive games. Even more encouraging has been the play of Matt Murray lately. As Murray goes, the Pens are going to go. He has won five games in a row, with 2 or less goals scored on him in four of five. Murray was getting lit up like a Christmas tree to open the season. However, since hitting the IR to get himself straight, he’s returned on fire with some impressive performances.
The Penguins have scored 3.5 goals and allowed 2.3 per game in their previous ten games. Conversely, the Rangers have allowed 3.4 goals per game and scored 3 goals. They are coming off some of their better wins of the year on the road.
The Rangers knocked off the Predators by a score of 4-3 and then defeated the Blues on New Years’ Eve. They were losers in six of seven games before come out with wins on the road. The Rangers have been better at home this season, but MSG isn’t a place the Penguins typically lose. In their last nine meetings in New York, the Pens have gone 7-2. After looking sharp on the road, expect the Rangers to return home to a thud against the Penguins. 2019 starts the same way the Penguins ended 2018.