The 2021-22 NHL season continues forward on Saturday, February 26 with several matchups, including a Metropolitan Division tilt between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Both rivals have been two of the best teams in their division throughout the season. The Rangers currently sit in second place with a 33-13-5 record, just three points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for first. Meanwhile, the Penguins have a 31-14-8 record and are four points out of first in the Metropolitan Division.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s Rangers vs Penguins matchup has the makings to be a good one, so here’s a preview of the collision — along with a betting prediction.
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: New York Rangers (33-13-5) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (31-14-8)
- Venue & Location: PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
- Date: Saturday, February 26, 2022
- Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+, ABC
- Moneyline: New York Rangers +140, Pittsburgh Penguins -165
- Total: OVER 6 (+100), UNDER 6 (-120)
- Puck Line: New York Rangers +1.5 (-175), Pittsburgh Penguins -1.5 (+145)
Odds are via BetMGM.
Rangers Look to Continue Recent Success
The Rangers enter Saturday’s matchup riding a wave of momentum. They’ve been one of the best teams in the NHL throughout the 2021-22 season, which is further proven by their 10-3-1 record over their last 14 games.
Mika Zibanejad has been the team’s best player over that stretch, recording seven goals and 13 assists. He’s been a master of the special teams over those 14 games, recording nine of his points with the man advantage.
That’s not even to mention that Chris Kreider has 13 goals during that span and now trails the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews (36) by just two goals for the league lead.
Adam Fox continues to prove why he deserves to be at the forefront of the Norris Trophy conversation. He has 13 points in his last 11 games while averaging a team-leading 23:37 of ice time. He now sits inside of the top 5 of all NHL players this season with 42 assists.
Of course, the Rangers likely don’t see their recent success if it wasn’t for starting goaltender and Vezina Trophy candidate Igor Shesterkin. The 26-year-old netminder is 10-1-1 in his last 12 games while putting up a 1.80 goals-against average (GAA), .947 save percentage (SV%) and one shutout.
The Rangers’ power play has also converted on 36.1% of opportunities over the last 14 games, however, the penalty kill could use some improvements (79.5%).
Penguins Must Snap Slump
While the Rangers have found a lot of success lately, the opposite could be said for the Penguins. After securing four straight wins at the start of February, Pittsburgh has lost three games in a row.
The Penguins’ losing streak might not look too bad if the final scores were close, but they’ve been outscored 14-5 over that stretch. Needless to say, the offense, defense and goaltending could all be better.
Evgeni Malkin is the only standout during the Penguins’ three-game skid, recording four points over that span. That brings him to 18 points in 17 games this season, so it’s safe to say that vintage Malkin is back.
The most concerning thing is that Pittsburgh’s usual offensive contributors — Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust — have combined for two goals during the Penguins’ slump. That’s absolutely unacceptable and if their own personal skid continues, it’s going to make it a lot tougher for the team to win games.
Meanwhile, goaltender Tristan Jarry has been dealing with his own issues in net. He has a 5.21 GAA and .833 SV% in his last three starts and was even pulled during Pittsburgh’s 6-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
One way for the Penguins’ to end their woes is to solve their special teams issues. Pittsburgh’s power play has converted on just 15.4% of opportunities in its last three games while boasting an abysmal 55.6% penalty kill rating. It’ll be up to head coach Mike Sullivan to make the appropriate adjustments going forward.
Can the Rangers or Penguins Win the Metropolitan Division?
As mentioned earlier, the Rangers and Penguins both have a statistical chance to win the Metropolitan Division by the end of the year. However, both teams are dealing with different obstacles in their way.
While the Rangers only trail the Hurricanes by one point, Carolina has played one fewer game than New York. Fortunately, the Rangers still have three games to play against the Hurricanes by the end of the season, which can help them close the gap. New York also has the 13th-easiest remaining schedule, so Rangers fans should feel pretty optimistic.
On the other hand, the road is much harder for the Penguins. They trail the Hurricanes by four points with three fewer games left to play. Pittsburgh also has the second-toughest remaining schedule, which doesn’t help.
The only saving grace is that the Penguins have three games left against the Hurricanes and four against the Rangers (including Saturday’s contest), so there’s an opportunity to make up some ground.
When it comes to betting odds, BetMGM is listing the Hurricanes as the Metropolitan Division favorites at -350 odds. The Penguins are second at +400, while the Rangers are third at +700. Clearly, the latter two teams have a lot to do to convince oddsmakers that they have a legitimate shot to win the division.
Look for Rangers to Continue Hot Streak
While the two rivals are close in the standings, the Rangers have a lot more momentum and are the better pick to win this meeting. As great as the Penguins could be, they’re leaving a lot on the table and could be heading down a downward spiral.
New York and Pittsburgh still have a lot of time to catch Carolina when it comes to the Metropolitan Division race. However, look for the Rangers to move one step closer to the Hurricanes by the time this matchup is over.