NHL Betting: Penguins to be too strong for Rangers


Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

The Pittsburgh Penguins might have expected divisional rivals the New York Rangers to be alongside them as one of the major challengers for the East both this season and last, but on neither occasion have the Rangers really lived up to the hype.

Currently 17 points separate them in the standings, and though the two meetings this season are split at one win each, this is the first that will take place at Consol Energy Center where the Pens are aiming for 11 straight successes.

To be fair to the Rangers they've picked up in the past two weeks, winning four out of five in that time, and only conceding one goal in three of those victories suggests it's a case of the defence and goaltending getting the job done.

Mats Zuccarello now ranks as their leading scorer and it has been his combo with Derick Brassard that has impressed, with Brad Richards, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan failing to justify their large salaries.

Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang may well be returning to the fold to boost Pittsburgh's firepower back to the scary level it is capable of reaching when everybody is healthy, so I'm taking the Penguins on the handicap.

Calgary Flames v Tampa Bay Lightning

After topping Vancouver on Monday it's now four road wins in a row for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and on paper tonight's visit to the Calgary Flames is a much easier assignment than any of them as the hosts appear ripe for the taking after a series of shocking efforts post-Christmas.

It's actually the fourth of a five-game homestand for the Flames over which they are yet to secure a point and scored just one goal which came from the stick of Sean Monahan.

In contrast, the Lightning are now really pushing the Boston Bruins at the head of the Atlantic Division, despite the naysayers and some big absentees.

Goalie Ben Bishop is the defier-in-chief after previously finding it difficult to make a major league impact in his career to date, but no goalie who has played more than 20 times this season has a better save percentage.

Martin St Louis is still plugging away as Tampa's offensive leader even without his injured partner in crime Steve Stamkos, though it's Valtteri Filppula who is really stepping up with 12 points in the last eight games.

It is easy decision to back the Bolts here despite shorter road odds of 2.25.

Best Bet: Pittsburgh Penguins to overcome -1.5 goal handicap at 2.60.