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After yet another great weekend of NHL action has come to a close, we open up a fresh week of hockey as we transition into the second third of the NHL season. I wasn’t able to get an article out on Friday, however my Thursday picks didn’t fair so well. The Leafs came out and displayed a very lackluster effort against a New Jersey team that was ripe for the taking and dropped a disappointing 5-3 affair to the Devils. My other pick of OVER 5.5 in the Lightning/Sabres game was more frustrating than my other loss. The Lightning did their part as they managed to put up five goals on the night, however the Sabres failed to find the back of the net and were shutout by the hometown Lightning. We needed just a single goal from Buffalo to clinch this pick, however we did not get it and the dreaded half goal did me in. I look forward to getting picks out all week so let’s get things started the right way tonight with three games on the schedule. Why not start with what should be the most entertaining affair on a light night in the NHL.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Rangers
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+130)
It’s always fun when the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers get together for a Metropolitan Division showdown. Every team that plays in this division know that the path to the top of the list goes through Pittsburgh, and the Pens never seem to mind having that target on their back on a nightly basis. New York played perhaps their best game of the season against Pittsburgh in a 5-0 rout of the Pens on November 11th, however the Pens got their revenge just four days later in a 3-2 shootout victory in Pittsburgh. The third of four meetings between the two clubs takes place this evening at Madison Square Garden and comes at a time when the Rangers need a victory to keep pace in a division that has rivals Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders well ahead of them. New York has had great success scoring goals against the Penguins this year as their 7 goals on 66 shots against Marc-Andre Fleury is something not many other teams in the league have been able to do. Pittsburgh clearly boasts some of the league’s best talent in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and their prowess with the man advantage this year has been simply unmatched. A 29.4% clip on the man advantage is the league’s best, and a big reason for that success is Malkin’s league-leading eight powerplay tucks. Their powerplay has enabled them to score 3.19 goals per game, and it has apparently traveled well too as Pittsburgh is 9-2-1 on the road this season. For the Rangers it has been an up-and-down year so far as the team has yet to officially find it’s groove. However, Rick Nash scored his 17th goals of the season on the weekend and he currently sits second in the NHL in that category. Nash’s potent season has been one of the brightest spots for the Rangers this year, however one of their darkest spots has been the unexpected subpar play from Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik has given up five or more goals on four different occasions this season and boasts number well below his career averages. His .905 save percentage and 2.70 goals against average are the worst of his career and he is coming off of a loss last week in which he was burnt for five goals on 20 shots. Nonetheless, the Rangers have been able to score a very respectable 2.88 goals per game this season and on some nights their scoring can keep up with the likes of the ever-so-potent Penguins offense. Take the OVER 5.5 tonight at a fantastic price and watch these two squads go at it.