NHL Predictions: May 7th with New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
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Welcome back to another day of NHL Predictions. Each day, Last Word on Hockey takes a look at the games that are happening and gives our predictions for each one, breaking down head-to-head and other factors that may play in. We also have a featured game of the day, which is considered must-watch TV. Today’s featured game is the New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins. 

NHL Predictions with New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Florida Panthers vs Washington Capitals

Series: Panthers 1-1 Capitals

There are two ways to look at the rest of this series. On one hand, the Washington Capitals did their job in the first set of games, found a split in an incredibly tough building, and could now win the series off of wins at home alone. On the other hand, the Florida Panthers looked completely dominant in Game 2, clearly shaking off the jitters of Game 1. That might be terrible news for the Capitals. Whether they are at home or not.

Another factor worth noting is how good Sergei Bobrovsky has been so far. Through two games, he’s at a .938 save percentage, with a goals-against-average of 2.02. The Capitals just don’t have that same quality in net with Vitek Vanecek.

Lastly, the Capitals have benefited from more productive special teams. The Panthers haven’t scored on the powerplay in eight tries, while surrendering two power-play goals against in six tries. If the Panthers even marginally improve in that area, it’ll make it even more difficult for the Caps.

As of now, the Panthers have the clear advantage. It’ll be even more severe if Tom Wilson is out again.

Prediction: Panthers win 4-2

Colorado Avalanche vs Nashville Predators

Series: Avalanche 2-0 Predators

Connor Ingram was an exceptional story in Game 2. He made 49 saves in the overtime loss, in what was his first career postseason start. The Nashville Predators looked completely outmatched for almost the whole game, and if not for Ingram, probably would have lost by a larger margin. It was the type of defeat where, if the Preds had been able to squeak it out, it maybe could have spurred on a real underdog surge for the rest of the series.

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Alas, the Predators weren’t able to steal one and were instead served a cruel heartbreaker. The Colorado Avalanche have looked every bit as good, if not better, than their regular-season performance. They’ll head on the road now to try and complete the sweep, and even in a loud, Preds-crazy building, it looks like a highly likely scenario.

The Avalanche should win this one, and Cale Makar will likely only continue to build his early case for a potential Conn Smythe Trophy.

Prediction: Avalanche win 5-1

Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars

Series: Flames 1-1 Stars

It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise that this has been the quietest series so far. Not that there hasn’t been physicality, or that the Calgary Flames fans haven’t been loud, but in terms of scoring this has been dead quiet. Again, not necessarily surprising though. Darryl Sutter has made a living out of a suffocating system, especially in the postseason. Plus, the Dallas Stars were one of the more low-event teams all year long. Mix the two together and, well, you get this.

What’s interesting though is that this type of low-event hockey might just be playing into the Stars’ hands. The Flames found a ton of success this season with an aggressive, attacking offence that could overwhelm the opponent for large stretches of time. Through two games, this isn’t the same Flames team. They look apprehensive and risk-averse.

In keeping the games to such a close checking level, it’s giving an underdog Stars team a bit more of a puncher’s chance. The Stars are comfortable with this type of hockey and have just enough skill to score even against great goaltending. Tonight, on home ice, they might just have what it takes to give the Flames their first genuine scare of the series.

Prediction: Stars win 2-1

New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Series: Rangers 1-1 Penguins

The news regarding Casey DeSmith‘s injury is a big blow for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s not that Louis Domingue has been bad for the Penguins, in fact, he’s been great through two games. It’s just that he’s been more of an AHL goalie this year and hasn’t had a lot of playing time in recent years. DeSmith is clearly the more trusted option, and the switch to Domingue will more than likely mean a downgrade. In a series against a tough New York Rangers team, even a slight edge could make a difference.

The other factor for the Penguins is the need to clean up their penalty kill. They’ve already given up a power-play goal against each game, going only 3/5. The Rangers have a lethal power play, but the Penguins can’t afford to spot the Rangers a goal per game. Even staying disciplined won’t cure the issue, as shown in Game 1 when New York went 1/1 with the man advantage.

With the series now shifting to Pittsburgh, the Rangers are going to need Igor Shesterkin to continue to be their best player. He’s been outstanding in the first two games, especially considering that the Rangers have been out-shot 124-108. That could tilt even more towards the Penguins’ favour on home ice.

On paper, the goaltending advantage is too much to ignore. The Penguins may outplay the Rangers, but with Shesterkin on his game, they should be able to steal one on the road.

Prediction: Rangers win 3-2

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