Three nights remain in the NHL betting season, and the two teams that are going to be showcased on Thursday night on the NBC Sports Network are the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers.
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The Rangers have already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and about the only things that are left to push for are the Presidents’ Trophy and the shot at earning the Vezina Trophy for Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is just one win away from 40 for the year, and his 1.93 GAA is absolutely as good as it gets in this league. This has truly been one of the best years that a goalie has ever had, though it is going to be difficult to ignore how strong others have been this year as well. New York is going to have a huge impact on the rest of the chase in the Eastern Conference playoffs this year, but when push comes to shove, getting four points from these last two games gets the job done and ensures it home ice advantage throughout the entire postseason and the Stanley Cup Finals. Keep a close eye on the lineup card on Thursday though, as Head Coach John Tortorella might elect to keep some of his stars out of the fold in this one, knowing that there are bigger fish to fry down the line in the playoffs.
One point in either of the last two games of the year will accomplish the goal for the Penguins. They want home ice advantage in their first round series against most likely the Philadelphia Flyers, especially knowing how well that they played at home this year. Their 27 victories here at Consol Energy Arena is tied with the Rangers for the most host victories on the campaign in the Eastern Conference, and that is something that is not going to be forgotten in the playoffs either. There aren’t many offenses that are more feared than this one right now. Evgeni Malkin already has 105 points, and he is two goals shy of the very rare 50/50 season. James Neal is in the 40/40 club with 40 goals and 41 assists. Sidney Crosby is back in fine form as well. He might only have 20 games under his belt, but he has 34 points, including a whopping 27 assists, the seventh best mark on a team that ranks No. 1 in the league both in total scoring and in shots per game for the season.
New York Rangers @ Pittsburgh Penguins Pick: We know that these two teams are very likely to run into each other at some point in the playoffs, and both are going to want to prove a point. Even if it is Martin Biron in the net for the Rangers, we still think that they are going to be the more enthusiastic team in this one, and they’ll get the job done on the road.
Free Hockey Pick: New York Rangers
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.