Tuesday Night NHL – Penguins Over Rangers and Predictions for Every Game

by Aaron Brooks
on December 20, 2016

After a relatively quiet Monday the NHL strikes back with a 12 game slate! It’s Christmas come early for NHL fans, especially those in the Eastern Conference. The top two teams in the Metropolitan Division and top two overall in the conference face off in our feature game. Bust out the pens and papers, grab yourself a holiday cocktail and get ready to make some quality holiday picks with so much hockey to choose from.

New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins

The Lines

Moneyline

  • New York (+127) at Pittsburgh (-140)

Spread

  • New York (+1.5) at Pittsburgh (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5

As alluded to above, the feature game on Tuesday is arguably the best hockey game any fan can ask for. It’s chalked full of star power, high-octane offenses, a rivalry that’s reaching the boiling point and some serious implications in the standings. Both coaches will tell you “its just one game”, but with both teams playing so well, this could lend some real confidence to whoever comes out on top.

Both teams enter the contest with very similar performances lately. The Rangers are 7-3-0 in their last ten games and trying to build on their three game win streak. Their last victory was a squeaker against New Jersey 3-2 but all wins still get you the same amount of points.

The Penguins have seven wins in their last ten games as well, but their record of 7-1-2 could be even better. They’re coming off back to back overtime losses, and even though the consolation point is nice, leaving a point out on the ice is never a great feeling. The good news is they’ll have a chance to make up some ground directly against the Rangers on Tuesday.

Offense

The Penguins and Rangers are ranked first and third respectively on offense this season in the NHL. Pittsburgh leads the league in goals per game at 3.41 with New York just behind them and Columbus at 3.32.

For the Penguins, the recipe for success is pretty straight forward. Get Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, or Phil Kessel the puck and watch them go to work.

Sid the Kid and Malkin are tied for third in league scoring behind Connor McDavid and Vladimir Tarasenko and Malkin may be hotter than anyone in the league right now. He has five goals and eight assists in his last ten games and is doing most of his damage on the power play.

He has 16 points with the extra-man attacker this season and is a big reason why Pittsburgh has managed to score on 20.69 percent of their power play opportunities.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, their offensive production is going to take a hit with Kris Letang out for several weeks. Letang is leading the defense in scoring this season with 19 points through 25 games and acts as the quarterback to get the puck up the ice.

More of the burden will fall on Justin Schultz to produce from the blueline and that might be just fine with him. Schultz has 18 points this season and 13 points in his last ten games.

In New York the offensive production is truly a teal effort. They have six players with over 20 points and yet not a single one with over 25. They’re led by Derek Stepan, Rick Nash, Mats Zaccarello, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller and if that sounds like a long list it is.

The Rangers are deep through all four of their lines up front and with Nash healthy against they’re likely to add to their league-leading 113 goals this season. If their depth wasn’t enough check out their powerplay. They rank ahead of Pittsburgh with a 21.00 percent success rate.

Defense

For as strong as Pittsburgh’s offense has been this season, their prowess at stopping the puck is far less celebrated. The Penguins are letting in 2.81 goals per game which rank far below the league average and they’re in even more trouble going forward.

Arguably Pittsburgh’s top two defenders, Krist Letang and Trevor Daley are both out indefinitely with injuries. Letang leads the defense in points, yet his -3 rating is evidence that someone more suited to defend may be able to step up and take his place.

The same can’t be said for Daley. He’s a +6 this season and can be utilized all over the ice. More of the burden will be placed on Justin Schultz and Olli Maata to step up and that’s probably just fine for Pittsburgh. The two are a combined +28 so far this season.

In New York everything is on the up and up. The defense ranks just behind the offense, letting in a very tidy 2.21 goals per game. They kill off 86.81 percent of their penalties as well, good enough for 4th overall.

Not a single defensemen has a negative rating on the Rangers which is flat out phenomenal. They’re led by Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Nick Holden and Dan Girardi who have combined for a shocking +43 on the season so far and are a huge reason why the Rangers lead the league in goal differential at +38.

Goalies

After a bit of controversy in Rangers land on who the true number one goalie is, it seems King Henrik has finally regained his crown. Henrik Lundqvist has been red-hot as of late, letting in just three goals in his last three games while winning for of his last five. He has his save percentage back up to .920 on the season and is letting in just 2.34 goals a game. As long as he continues to play at this pace, the Rangers will be tough to beat, let alone score a goal on.

Thankfully for the Penguins they have their own ace between the pipes. Young star and cup-winner Matt Murray has a .938 save percentage and incredible 1.84 goals against average this season, yet has only played 16 games.

Marc-Andre Fleury is not ready to play full-time back up yet, and after a strong start in Toronto may get to start again against the Rangers. If that happens, New York will find it much easier to score against Fleury and his 3.36 goals against average.

Key Matchup

Evgeni Malkin against Rick Nash. With all the skill these two posses, its their size that is often so fun to watch. Let’s see who can stay hot and find the back of the net between these powerful skilled forwards.

Advice

Normally we’d advise to take the best team in the East getting a goal and a half on the spread, but they’re playing against the second best team in the East, so anything can happen. The Rangers are equally as good away from home as they are in their own building, while Pittsburgh dominates at home as well.

Frankly, it’s a tough call, but we like Pittsburgh’s chances at home to snap New York’s three-game win streak on the moneyline.

Pick

Pittsburgh
4
New York
2

New York Islanders at Boston Bruins

The Lines

Moneyline

  • New York (+151) at Boston (-167)

Spread

  • New York (+1.5) at Boston (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5

The New York Islanders were supposed to at least contend for a playoff spot this season and instead find themselves at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference at 11-14-6. They’re 4-4-2 in their last ten games, so it’s not as if they’ve been playing terrible.

The problem is, their goalies have. Jaroslav Halak is allowing 3.13 goals a game this season with his playing partner Thomas Greiss not far behind at 2.66. With Halak struggling, Greiss has been given more playing time, but hasn’t improved. He let in five goals in his last start against the Blackhawks.

The Bruins on the other hand continue to steadily make ground on their Eastern Conference opponents. They’re goal differential has improved to just -1 on the season and they’re coming off an impressive shutout against the LA Kings.

Boston will be without second-leading scorer David Pastrnak as he recovers from surgery to remove the olecranon bursa on his right elbow, but their offense should be able to persevere without him against New York.

Key Matchup

Brad Marchand against John Tavares. Tavares has struggled mightily over his last five games and with Brad Marchand on the ice to bug him all night it will be fun to see if it reaches a boiling point.

Advice

The Islanders are struggling as of late and Despite Boston being just 8-8-0 at home this season, New York is a brutal 2-7-2 in away games. Take Boston on the moneyline and sleep easy.

Pick

Boston
3
New York
1

LA Kings at Columbus Blue Jackets

The Lines

Moneyline

  • LA (+131) at Columbus (-145)

Spread

  • LA (+1.5) at Columbus (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

We could have easily made this our feature game on Tuesday, but it’s tough to be better than the two best teams in the East. With that being said, how fun has it been to watch the Blue Jackets this season?

Columbus has won nine in a row for a franchise record and are now sitting at 20-5-4 on the season. Their goal differential of +37 is eye popping and second only to the New York Rangers on the season.

While its true Columbus has been scoring at will, their most valuable player during their winning streak has easily been goaltender Serei Brobovsky. Brobovsky has won eight straight with a 1.50 goals against average and a staggering .941 save percentage.

He leads the league in wins and is a top five netminder in both goals against average and save percentage.

The Kings are the opposite. Despite one of the deepest teams in the NHL and best defensive cores, their goaltending has been less than elite in the absence of Johnathan Quick. Peter Budaj and Jeff Zatkoff have done their best but don’t offer the normal value that Quick used to bring between the pipes.

Anne Kopitar has been a letdown so far for the Kings this season as well, with just 15 points in 26 games and a plus/minus rating of +1.

Key Matchup

Sergei Brobovsky against the Kings. Can Brobovsky continue his red-hot streak and shutout a team that was just shutout by the Bruins? Or will Kopitar and Jeff Carter solve the goaltender?

Advice

We don’t want to mess with Columbus streaking at home, but we will happily take the Kings on the spread. LA getting 1.5 goals even if they do just have six wins on the road this season is action we’ll normally load up on.

Pick

Columbus
2
LA
1

Anaheim Ducks at Montreal Canadiens

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Anaheim (+152) at Montreal (-169)

Spread

  • Anaheim (+1.5) at Montreal (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

The good games keep rolling in on Tuesday don’t they? The Ducks are playing the second night of a back to back against a Montreal team that hasn’t played since December 17th, but that same Montreal team is a little shakier than usual.

The Canadiens lost some depth with Andrew Shaw out of the lineup with a concussion and Andrei Markov questionable to suit up on Tuesday with a lower body injury. Add in Caery Price finally looking human between the pipes and this isn’t the same dominant Montreal team that was blowing by people to start the season.

The good news for Montreal is that they’re virtually unbeatable at home. The Habs are 14-2-2 in their own arena this season which is the best mark in the NHL. The Ducks on the other hand are just 6-7-4 on the road and will be tired coming in after a tilt with Toronto.

Key Matchup

Shea Weber against Rickard Rakell. Rakell has been red-hot as of late with 21 points in just 21 games entering last night against the Leafs, but now goes up against one of the best defenders in all of hockey. The good news for Rakell is it looks like he’ll just have to worry about scoring on Weber rather than stopping him. Weber has just one point in his last ten games.

Advice

The Ducks struggle away from home, and any time a team has to play back to back on the road, we like betting the home team heavily. Especially if that home team is the Canadiens. We suggest loading up on the Spread and the Moneyline to favour the Habs and watch the money pile up.

Pick

Montreal
4
Anaheim
1

Buffalo Sabres at Florida Panthers

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Buffalo (+136) at Florida (-150)

Spread

  • Buffalo (+1.5) at Florida (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

Say what you will about the Buffalo Sanbres this season, but they’ve been exciting to watch. Yes they’re the second last team in the Eastern Conference, but still own a winning record at 12-11-7. Those seven overtime/shootout losses are absolutely killer, but they’re a young team that will continue to learn how to win as they mature.

One player in particular is maturing fast. Jack Eichel has eight points in nine games this season and looks healthier each time he steps on the ice. He’ll try his best to lead the Sabres into Florida to take on a Panthers team that hasn’t played since December 16th.

The Panthers aren’t faring much better than the Sabres with a 14-13-5 record, but do own an 8-5-0 record at home this season. If the Panthers want to start climbing up the standings this game would be a good start, but they’ll need to fix their powerplay. It’s succeeding just 14.81 percent of the time.

Key Matchup

Jack Eichel against Jaromir Jargr. Jaromir Jagr is older than Eichel than Eichel is old! If that sentence is confusing we will simplify it for you. Jagr is 44, Eichel is 20. The kid goes against the master in a game both teams would love to win.

Advice

Buffalo is 5-3-2 in their last ten games and have looked like a different team since Eichel’s return. Add in how poor Florida has been this season and the amazing odds Buffalo is getting and we like taking them on the spread AND the moneyline.

Pick

Buffalo
4
Florida
1

Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Colorado (+205) at Minnesota (-230)

Spread

  • Colorado (-1.5) at Minnesota (+1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

Our most lopsided game of the night pits the worst team in the NHL against one of the best. The Avalanche are just 11-18-1 this season and a dismal 2-8-0 in their last ten games. They’ve lost three straight including a 4-1 loss to Winnipeg in their latest brutal performance.

Now they travel to Minnesota to try and score against the best defense in the league. The Wild are giving up just 2.00 goals a game for tops in the NHL and are a sparkling 11-3-0 at home this season. They also have a guy named Devan Dubynk in net.

Dubnyk has not lost a game in regulation since November 19 and the netminder now leads the league in save percentage, goals against average, and shutouts. He’s the current favorite for the Vezina trophy and have many talking about a possible run at the Hart.

If you needed any more reasoning to put your money on the Wild keep this in mind: No one scores less than the Avalanche this season.

Key Matchup

Devan Dubnyk against all Colorado can throw at him. His run has been so remarkable that it’s just fun to watch at this point. Seeing him try and stop pucks from the worst offense in the NHL might be the only reason to tune in.

Advice

The odds aren’t great, but neither are the Avalanche. If you want to avoid the moneyline we understand, but Minnesota to cover -1.5 goals is well within reason.

Pick

Minnesota
3
Colorado
0

Ottawa Senators at Chicago Blackhawks

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Ottawa (+153) at Chicago (-170)

Spread

  • Ottawa (+1.5) at Chicago (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5

An East against West matchup pits two strong teams against one another on Monday night. The visiting Senators have won two straight including hammering the Islanders 6-2, but are still just 4-4-2 in their last ten games.

The Sens are one of those rare teams that have a winning record both at home and on the road and it’s largely in part to their strong defense. Ottawa is giving up just 2.66 goals a game while producing from that end as well.

Erik Karlsson has thirty points after handing out two assists during Ottawa’s latest win and now easily leads the team in points despite playing from the blue line out. Ottawa’s offense in general has been strong as of late thanks to players like Mark Stone. Stone is enjoying a three game point streak and helping Ottawa find the back of the net game after game.

If Ottawa’s defensemen have been good Chicago’s have been even better. The Blackhawks allow just 2.35 goals per game despite killing off just 73.91 percent of their powerplays.

Duncan Keith continues to lead one of the deepest defenses in the NHL and the blackhawks seemed to have settle down after a slow start to the season. Artemi Panarin continues to be the x-factor on the attack. He has 34 points in 34 games to lead the team in scoring despite Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews both being on the roster.

Key Matchup

Scott Darling against Mike Condon. With both of Ottawa’s regular goalies out, Mike Condon has had to do his best to fill in with mixed results. He’s up against Scott Darling who’s been steady as of late after a shaky start. Neither goaltender is a proven star meaning this game could feature a lot of goals.

Advice

Despite Ottawa’s strong start to the season, it feels like Chicago is finally rounding into form. This still has the feeling of a close game, so we’ll ignore the Chicago spread, but we do like the Blackhawks on the moneyline.

Pick

Chicago
5
Ottawa
3

St.Louis Blues at Dallas Stars

The Lines

Moneyline

  • St.Louis (+111) at Dallas (-123)

Spread

  • St.Louis (+1.5) at Dallas (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5

The Blues are fortunate the rest of the Central division is struggling behind them. St.Louis is just 4-4-2 in their last ten games and the only team in the top six of the Western Conference to have a negative goal differential (-3) on the season.

They’re coming off a rare loss at home against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night and now have to travel to Dallas on Tuesday to take on the Stars. Thankfully for the Blues, the Stars are one of those struggling teams in the division.

Dallas is 4-6-0 in their last ten games but coming off a 3-1 win against one of the hottest teams in the league in the Philadelphia Flyers. Anti Niemi seems to have found his groove between the pipes, limiting the Ducks, Rangers and Flyers to a total of just four goals in his last three starts.

Jake Allen will be back in net for the Blues after Carter Hutton gave him a break on Monday. Allen has played poorly this season with a .898 save percentage, but at least he gets to test his luck against the Stars middling offense.

Key Matchup

Vladimir Tarasenko against Tyler Seguin. Tarasenko (38 points) is just two points behind Connor McDavid for the lead league while Sequin is nipping at his heels in eighth spot with 32. Both players are 24 and 25 respectively and already dominating scoring in the NHL.

Advice

Th home team has won both games this season and we see that trend continuing tonight, but it should be close given how tough these two usually play each other. We like the Stars on the moneyline and the Blues to cover.

Pick

Dallas
3
St.Louis
2

Winnipeg Jets at Vancouver Canucks

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Winnipeg (-114) at Vancouver (+103)

Spread

  • Winnipeg (-1.5) at Vancouver (+1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

The Canucks enter Tuesday’s game having let in exactly 100 goals in 32 games this season. That ranks as one of the worst marks in the league and is a huge reason for their -20 goal differential on the season.

Lucking for Vancouver, they take on Winnipeg who have scored just 90 goals in 34 games this season and are a dismal 5-10-2 away from home this season. They’re enjoying a mini two game win streak at the moment, but both victories came against Colorado and Florida, and their starting goalie is still struggling,

Connor Hellebuyck is just 3-3-1 with a 3.03 goals against average and a .927 save percentage in the month of December, but the Canucks might be the perfect formula to get back on track. Vancouver’s leading scorer Daniel Sedin has just 21 points on the season and Loui Eriksson has been a major disappointment on the top line with just 14 points in 32 games.

Key Matchup

Ryan Miller against Connor Hellebuyck. With both goalies struggling, someone needs to step up and make some saves. Miller’s time may be over as an all-star netminder, but Hellebuyck showed flashes of brilliance last season that we haven’t seen yet

Advice

With Winnipeg’s brutal road record and Vancouver’s ability to win games at home (9-5-2 this season), why not take the extra goal and a half on the spread for the home team? Pick the Canucks and hope they stay in it.

Pick

Winnipeg
3
Vancouver
2

Nashville Predators at New Jersey Devils

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Nashville (-111) at New Jersey (+105)

Spread

  • Nashville (-1.5) at New Jersey (+1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

Raise your hand if you thought the Predators would be struggling this badly so far this season. Nashville is 4-4-2 in their last ten games and just two games above .500 in a crowded Western Conference. Their 2-1 win over the red-hot Flyers on Monday night should help boost their confidence, but now they play the second night of a back to back on the road in New Jersey.

The Preds and road games have not got along this season. Nashville is an awful 4-92 away from their own stadium and have trouble scoring away from home. Now they take on a Devils team that has been excellent in their own building.

Despite the 12-12-7 record, New Jersey has protected home ice. They have eight wins at home this season with just one loss in regulation. The Devils need Kyle Palmieri to get going. After scoring 30 goals last season he’s found the back of the net just four time.

Key Matchup

Taylor Hall against the Nashville defense. With P.K. Subban likely sitting out this game with an injury, Hall will try and get going against a weaker Nashville defense than we’re used to seeing. Hall has just 20 points this season and is a -5 overall.

Advice

The odds are great for Nashville on the moneyline after coming off a win on the road, but the second night of a back to back is always scary. Still, we keep waiting for the Predators to turn their season around and maybe a struggling Devils team will do the trick. Take Nashville on the money and ignore the spread.

Pick

Nashville
2
New Jersey
1

Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Detroit (+133) at Tampa Bay (-167)

Spread

  • Detroit (+1.5) at Tampa Bay (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

Henrik Zetterberg called a team meeting recently after the Wings continued to lose close games and give a lacklustre effort for 60 minutes each night. All that did was spur them on to beat the Ducks 6-4 and improve to 14-14-4 on the season. Now that they’re at .500 it will be interesting to see if they can build on their strong play against a Tampa Bay team that is suddenly in free fall mode.

The Lightning have lost Steven Stamos for the year and now have Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan all dealing with injuries. It’s tough to win hockey games when anyone is hurt, let alone your best players and Tampa has shown that. They’re just 2-6-2 in their last ten games and have a goal differential of 0 after piling on the points earlier in the season.

Tampa may be in luck on Tuesday though. They play at home the Lightning  have been decennia this season with a 7-5-1 record. Still, with both Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevsky struggling in net for Tampa, it could be tough to find a win on the road.

Key Matchup

Tyler Johnson against Petr Mrazek. Johnson has just 17 points this season and needs to step up in the absence of the top line forwards. He can do so against Mrazek who carries in a dismal .902 save percentage and .298 goals against average into the game.

Advice

The odds aren’t great for either team, but with Detroit’s inability to score (just 78 goals this season!) and seemingly all of Tampa’s skill players hurt, why not take the under?

Pick

Tampa Bay
3
Detroit
1

Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Calgary (+140) at San Jose (-179)

Spread

  • Calgary (+1.5) at San Jose (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

We did it! We made it to the last game of the night and if you made it here too hats off. We end on a good one in the late night spot with a big showdown in the Western Conference. Only three points separate these two teams and they’ve split their last four games at two wins apiece.

Calgary has recaptured the form it found early last season and looks like they may actually be for real this year. The Flames are 7-2-1 in their last ten games but still finding it difficult to score. The four goals they scored last night against Arizona should help, but it is Arizona after all…

San Jose has found it even harder to score this season with just 80 goals compared to Calgary’s 89 , but few teams are better at stopping the other team from scoring as well. The Sharks have allowed just 72 goals on the year and a big thanks can be given to their deep defense.

Brent Burns, Paul Martin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and David Schlemko are all positive on the season and make up one of the strongest defensive units in the NHL. Martin Jones has also been strong in net this year. The Sharks goalie is allowing just 2.13 goals a game while stopping .919 percent of the shots he faces.

Advice

Calgary getting a goal and a half seems like the play at first, but keep in mind their playing on the second night of a back to back and the Sharks are 10-4-0 at home. Take San Jose on the moneyline.

Pick

San Jose
4
Calgary
3
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