Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Rangers vs. Pittsburgh.
The series begins:
Madison Square Garden (New York, USA).
Pittsburgh have been unable to reach the first round of the playoffs for four years in a row. Will Mike Sullivan's team be able to beat the Rangers in the upcoming series? We predict that the New York club will be closer to success!Get Your Welcome Bonus!
For the Rangers, all recent years have been extremely disappointing. They managed only once in the four previous seasons to make the playoffs and then lost by a score of 0-3 to Carolina. The rebuilding process finally came to an end for the New York club, and this past offseason, they also acquired a decent coach, Gerard Gallant, who replaced David Quinn. As time has shown, these changes have benefited the Blues.
Gerard Gallant immediately built the Rangers' defense, and they had no problems with attacking play before. After all, the selection of players allows them to be productive up front. They played the regular season smoothly, without any major upsets, which allowed them to make the playoffs and finish in a solid fifth place in the Eastern standings, gaining home-court advantage in the conference quarterfinals.
Pittsburgh are another team that has been going through bad times all the last few years. After championship titles in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, the Penguins began to slow down, winning just one series in four consecutive cup campaigns, clearly below the level of ambition of a team featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Nevertheless, the Pennsylvanians believe in their current backbone, so they're only making point-by-point additions to the squad.
Pittsburgh finished the regular season without their two biggest stars, who had surgeries in the summer and had a lengthy recovery period. The Penguins were relegated to the group of the league's underdogs, but the return of Crosby and Malkin abruptly lifted their results. At the end of the winter, the Black and Yellow even made it to the Eastern Conference leaders, but they didn't finish the regular season well and ended up in seventh place.
History of head-to-head encounters between the Rangers and Pittsburgh
The teams have played each other seven times in the NHL playoffs. In two occasions, New York advanced to the next round, while five times, the Penguins were stronger. The Pennsylvanians also led 24-13 in wins and 122-93 in goals scored. The last time the two teams fought in the Stanley Cup was in 2015/16 when Pittsburgh won the final game 4-1.
Expert Betting Tips
Rangers and Pittsburgh failed last season. Only the Penguins did not take any serious actions to change the situation, relying on their age leaders, and New York worked on strengthening the squad and appointed a new coach. This allowed the New York club to improve while the Pennsylvanians continue to turn into a typical NHL mid-tier team without big Cup aspirations. Gerard Galland's team has been stronger than the Black and Yellows in the last three head-to-head encounters, so opt for a Rangers qualification for 1.91.
The Rangers and Pittsburgh are among the best defensive teams in the regular season. In 82 meetings played, New York allowed 204 goals (2.49 average per game) - second-best in the NHL, while the Penguins allowed 222 goals (2.71 average per game) - fifth-best in the league. Moreover, in their four head-to-head encounters during the regular season, the opponents combined for only 15 goals (3.75 average per game), which is a very low level for the NHL, so expect Total Under 35.5 pucks in the series.
The Rangers and Pittsburgh are not only great defensively in equal parts, but they also have quality squads to neutralize most of their opponents. For last year's regular season, the Penguins rebound in 84.4% of situations when they were outnumbered, while New York were successful defensively in 82.3% of situations when they were outnumbered. In the playoffs, Mike Sullivan and Gerard Gallant will work even harder on this game component, so the minority special teams will play even more productively. On this basis, we should expect Total Under 8.5 power-play goals in the series.
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