With the Pittsburgh Penguins clinching their 16th consecutive playoff berth, all focus is on the postseason. The Metropolitan Division is loaded with talent. As of right now, the Penguins are sitting in third place. However, the Washington Capitals are close behind. Because of this, there are two teams that the Penguins will likely face in the first round.
The New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have seemingly been the main nemesis of the Penguins for the entire year. In the four games that they’ve played, Pittsburgh has only won one game. The other three were pretty poor as they were blown out, then had a close game and subsequently shut out. Out of the two teams that the Penguins are likely to play, the Rangers are the most likely. Bettors who may want to place a bet on this or other games can do so with Free Bets and other ways to win.
There are multiple factors that play out into this matchup. First, the goaltending is going to be evaluated. Unfortunately, it’s not much of a matchup. The Rangers’ goalie, Igor Shesterkin, has been nothing short of astonishing this year. To be frank, it’d be a shock if he does not receive the Vezina Trophy at the end of the year. In terms of goaltending, the Rangers dominate.
However, in most other facets, the Penguins have the advantage. They have an incredible amount of playoff experience, something that the Rangers severely lack. Then, the offense and defense are fairly comparable. Both the Rangers and Penguins have star-power as well as depth in both regards. If the Pittsburgh Penguins face the Rangers in the first round, it’ll be a great battle, but it’ll also be difficult to predict the outcome.
The Florida Panthers
Most fans thought that the Carolina Hurricanes might be more likely, but there are many more scenarios in which the Penguins will play the Florida Panthers in the first round. Evaluating the goaltending between these teams proves that it is a lot closer than with the Rangers. In fact, Jarry has slightly better stats than Panthers’ goalies Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight, meaning the Penguins could win that battle. That matters if, and only if, Jarry is back from his injury. Otherwise, Casey DeSmith will start, and he has absolutely no playoff experience.
However, the Panthers’ lineup is nothing short of dominating. They have nearly one star on every offensive line, and they’ve been firing on all cylinders lately. The Penguins could outmatch the Panthers’ defense, but there is a great chance that Aaron Ekblad of the Panthers is going to be back for the postseason. This matchup would definitely less desirable than facing the Rangers as Pittsburgh would undoubtedly struggle against them.
It is incredibly ideal if Pittsburgh faces the Rangers over the Panthers. Despite the difference in goaltending skill, the Penguins would likely fare a lot better. While it can be argued that the Panthers would be more desirable to face in the playoffs because of the Penguins record against the Rangers, their playoff experience alone would play a huge factor in the outcome of the first round. Most of all, fans need to hope for a speedy recovery from Jarry so he’ll be starting come postseason.
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