With star goalie Henrik Lundqvist due for his first home start in three weeks, the New York Rangers stand an excellent chance of breaking two negative trends when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
The Rangers are listed as the -130 favorite against the +100 underdog Penguins with a total of 5.5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Rangers are 0-7 straight-up in their last seven home games at Madison Square Garden, but much of that trend occurred while Lundqvist was sidelined with a hip injury. The Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins are also scuffling due to a plethora of injuries, having lost four games in a row.
The Penguins are 46-19-11 this season, including 4-6 across their last 10 games. Crosby may be reunited with each of his linemates, since LW Conor Sheary is back and RW Jake Guentzel (concussion) is a game-time decision. Veteran D Ron Hainsey (upper body) may also return.
Injuries throughout the second half have contributed to the Penguins having to adopt a simplified system, which might be a contributing factor to why the total in their last three road games against Metropolitan Division counterparts has gone under.
Matt Murray, who has a 2.86 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in March, will likely start in goal for the Penguins. Backup Marc-Andre Fleury got the call on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Rangers are 46-26-5 this season, including 3-7 across their last 10 games. Lundqvist will be trying to find his form before the playoffs; he allowed five goals apiece in each of his first two starts since returning.
New York, which relies on scoring by committee through Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan, has already clinched a playoff berth but will likely finish fourth in the Metropolitan. With their recent struggles, though, it’s doubtful they will go on auto-pilot before the playoffs. Stepan goes into the game on a four-game point streak.
Defencemen Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein did not practice on Thursday, but are likely to play. The Rangers are 1-5 in their last six home games against fellow Metropolitan teams.
The total has gone under in eight of the Penguins’ last 10 road games and has also gone under in four of their last six games as a road underdog, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.