Rangers vs. Penguins NHL Pick – January 22, 2021

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It’s been a tough go as of late as we dropped both of our picks from Wednesday night’s action, and once again took a tough beat in the process.

The Canadiens led 5-4 with less than five minutes to go in Vancouver, only to see the Canucks tie the game late and win it in overtime. That marked the second straight night a goal with about five minutes left in a game cost us after the Kings did it to the Avalanche on Tuesday night.

We also dropped our Blues in regulation pick as the Sharks won that one outright by a 2-1 count earlier in the evening.

The 0-2 night cost us 2.6 units as we have slid deeper into negative territory on the season.

There’s still plenty of hockey left to play, however, so let’s get back on the right track with this Rangers vs. Penguins NHL pick from Pittsburgh!

  • Season Record:5-8
  • Units: -3.69

Rangers vs. Penguins Betting Odds

  • Rangers (+124)
  • Penguins (-137)
  • Rangers +1.5 (-190)
  • Penguins -1.5 (+165)
  • Over 6.5 (+104)
  • Under 6.5 (-115)

Rangers vs. Penguins NHL Pick Breakdown

Rangers

Offense

Offense certainly wasn’t a problem for the Rangers last season, but it’s been an issue through their small three-game sample size to this point.

The Rangers’ offense surged to fifth in the league last season, but they’ve managed just eight goals in three games so far this season despite averaging 35.3 shots per game so far, tied for fourth in the league.

According their advanced metrics, there should be plenty of positive regression on the horizon.

At 5v5 this season, the Rangers rank 10th in scoring chances for/60, fifth in high-danger chances for/60 and seventh in terms of expected goals for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. They’re just 3 for 17 (17.6%) on the power play so far this season, but the fact that they rank 20th in high-danger shooting rate and 22nd in overall shooting rate at 5v5 suggest they’ve been the victims of some poor puck luck in the early going given the fact they’ve generated plenty of scoring opportunities.

Their 2020 first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere is still in search of his first NHL goal and it appears David Quinn has once again shook up his lines, moving Lafreniere onto a group with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad after he spent the last two games skating with Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin.

Offense from the defense has also been non-existent so far as Rangers blueliners have yet to record a goal this season.

At the end of the day, this Rangers offense will regress positively as the sample size grows.

Defense

Defense was largely the issue last season as the Rangers allowed plenty of scoring chances, almost more than any team in the league.

At 5v5 a season ago, the Rangers ranked 28th in scoring chances against/60, 29th in high-danger chances against/60 and 30th in expected goals against/60. Their defensive numbers on the surface improved late in the season, but that had a lot to do with rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin who debuted as advertised.

It was fair to expect some bumps in the road for a Rangers back end that was one of the younger groups in the NHL. At the moment, three of the six Rangers defensemen are 22 or under while even the experience Jacob Trouba is just 26. They added a veteran in Jack Johnson (34) in the offseason, but his game is a shell of what it once was at this point.

As this group continues to develop and mature, we should expect more peaks and valleys again this season. In the early going, the Rangers rank 17th in scoring chances against/60, 20th in high-danger chances against/60 and 22nd in expected goals against/60. On the surface, they rank 16th in overall defense with 2.67 goals against per game, but they probably deserve some regression on that front.

At this stage, we’ll see if their overall game improves as we move along.

Goaltending

As noted, Shesterkin burst onto the scene as advertised last season, posting a .932 Sv% in his 12-game regular season sample, and along with fellow young Russian Alexandar Georgiev, it would appear the Rangers are set in goal for a long time.

Georgiev has actually started two of the Rangers’ three games this season, but it will be Shesterkin going in this one tonight.

The youngster didn’t get off to a great start in allowing four goals against the low-scoring Islanders to open the season last Thursday, but should improve considering the work on his resume.

Shesterkin also posted a .934 Sv% in the AHL last season across 25 games, but posted save percentages of .937, .933 and .953 over his final three seasons with St. Petersburg of the KHL, and did so in his early 20s in the second-best league in the world. His 1.11 GAA and .953 Sv% in his final season overseas was simply brilliant.

There’s no doubt he’ll be in tough tonight against a high-octane Penguins offense, but the 2014 fourth-round pick could very well be up to the task in search of a bounce-back effort in this one.

Penguins

Offense

There’s little reason to ever question this Penguins offense so long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the one-two punch down the middle.

Their offense is off to a fine start on the heels of ranking 10th in the league while battling through plenty of injuries a season ago, averaging 3.25 goals per game so far, tied with the Jets for 11th in the league in the early going.

Their power play is also off to a nice start, ranking 10th at an even 25% on the season, a good sign considering they slipped to 16th last season, partly due to the injuries to the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Jake Guentzel up front.

The Penguins certainly appear deserving of their offensive fate so far, ranking 10th in scoring chances for/60, eighth in high-danger chances for/60 and 13th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5.

It’s an offense that saw some turnover in the offseason as general manager Jim Rutherford traded Patric Hornqvist to Florida and acquired Kasperi Kapanen in a trade with the Maple Leafs. Mark Jankowski was also acquired to serve as the team’s third-line center after Nick Bjugstad was provided that opportunity before battling injuries all season long.

It appears to be a faster, more well-rounded group that’s deeper than the offense they sported last season, so look for more positive results from this group again this time around.

Defense

Defense is the No. 1 concern on this team right now, and not only due to their early-season results.

The Pens have allowed plenty of goals in the early stages of the season, sitting with 18 goals allowed in just four games. That 4.50 goals against per game average ranks them 29th in the league at this point.

That said, injuries are already taking their toll on this team. The Penguins are currently without Michael Matheson (acquired from the Panthers in the Hornqvist deal), Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola at the moment. Such a circumstance has led to the suspect Cody Ceci being promoted into the team’s top-four while rookie Pierre-Olivier Joseph will make his NHL debut in this one after playing just 52 professional games to this point, all in the AHL last season. Joseph was a first-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2017 and was brought to Pittsburgh in the trade that sent Phil Kessel to the desert.

All that said, the Penguins appear to be the victims of poor luck other than on the injury front.

They rank sixth in scoring chances against/60 at 5v5 and 14th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. It’s not the best looking group at the moment, but look for strides to be made moving forward.

Goaltending

Goaltending hasn’t done this defense any favors.

Matt Murray was traded to the Ottawa Senators during the draft, leaving the door open for Tristan Jarry to become the undisputed No. 1 netminder for the Pens.

It’s been a tough start to the season, however, as Jarry has been brutalized for a 7.57 GAA and .727 Sv% in two starts this season. Casey DeSmith hasn’t been much better in posting an .871 Sv% in his two starts, but it will be Jarry back in the crease in search of redemption this evening.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a coming out party last season, posting a 2.43 GAA and .921 Sv% in his 33 appearances that included three shutouts. He’s the owner of a 2.71 GAA and .911 Sv% in 64 NHL games played, but there’s little doubt the Penguins are comfortable in rolling with him as their goaltender of the future.

Rangers vs. Penguins NHL Pick

Here we have two excellent offensive teams and two defenses that haven’t been at their best in the early going

I’m not sure the Rangers are going to be a supreme defense when the season is all said and done given their youth and inability to keep teams outside the dangerous areas of the ice. The Penguins have the ability to be far better on the back end, but it’s a thin defense at the moment and one that will have their hands full.

Of course, Jarry is going to be far better at some point, but at the moment he can’t be entering this one with much confidence after being shelled twice in the early going. Shesterkin hasn’t been great in a tiny sample and I expect him to be excellent for this team for years to come, but it certainly appears he’s in the process of ironing out some kinks as well.

Needless to say, I’m on the Over 6.5 in this one at what I believe are valuable +104 odds.

The Bet
OVER 6.5
+104
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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.