Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:51 AM

NHL Best Bets, Score Predictions for Thursday Apr. 8

NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions

VegasInsider.com NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for one NHL game on Thursday, Apr. 8, 2021.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers

  • Money-Line Odds: Pittsburgh +105; New York -122
  • Total (Over-Under): 6

Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 4 New York 2

Best Bet: Penguins ML

It's no easy task to score nine total goals over the course of two consecutive games and come out 0-2 in the win column, but that's exactly what the Penguins have accomplished. The thing that may be even wilder than that for Pittsburgh is the fact that they've been outscored by an average of three goals per game (15-9) in those two defeats as well.

For this Pittsburgh team that had allowed three goals in just two of their previous 13 games before this stretch, it's been 120 minutes of awful defensive hockey for the Penguins.

So is the defensive slide for the Penguins something that's become a systemic problem, or a blip on the radar that creates a nice buy low spot? That's got to be the question bettors have to ask themselves with the Penguins right now. With it being a New York Rangers team that I've had no issues fading often this year on the other side of the ice, I'll lean towards this being a nice buy low spot on the Penguins.

That 13-game stretch of strong defensive hockey is more in line what I believe this Penguins team is, even if it doesn't completely play out in the xGA/60 (2.69) for Pittsburgh anymore. The Rangers were a perfect 3-for-3 with the man advantage the other night – not likely to play out again – and considering New York's eight goals came on just 25 shots, that ugly loss can also be chalked up as just a complete off night for both of Pittsburgh's goalies (they each allowed four goals).

In fact, you can even take it a step further in saying it was just one of those nights where much of anything really wasn't working for Pittsburgh, as the Penguins outshot New York by 20 shots (45-25), scored four times and still got doubled up.

Hard for any NHL team not to have a couple of games play out like that for them over the course of the season, and I would guess that whomever ends up getting the start in net for Pittsburgh tonight, expecting them to play exponentially better isn't a hard perspective to get behind.

Furthermore, seeing the Rangers offense blow up like they did has been consistently inconsistent all season long. New York has scored six or more goals four other times prior to Tuesday night and the Rangers are 1-3 SU in their next outing, scoring just a single goal in all three of those defeats.

There was a 6-2 win over Boston that was followed by a 4-1 loss to the Bruins, a 6-1 win over New Jersey that was followed by a 6-3 win over the Devils, a 9-0 win over Philly that was followed by a 2-1 loss to Washington, and a 8-3 win over Philly was followed by a 2-1 loss to the Flyers.

Quality teams like Boston and Washington were able to take advantage of the Rangers in a negative variance spot offensively, and even the Flyers are more of a comparable team to Pittsburgh than New Jersey is considered.

And even with how ugly the last 120 minutes of hockey have been for the Penguins, the positive is they are still scoring goals themselves at a high rate, and both Pittsburgh and New York are riding identical 6-3-1 SU runs over their last 10 games if you are willing to zoom out the lens a little further.

Pittsburgh's also still 5-2 SU against the Rangers this year as well, and even though these recent underdog selections I've made have been colder than a bitch in a blizzard, I'll go back to the well with Pittsburgh at plus-money tonight.

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