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Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (December 6th, 2021)

By Hank Blaine

Bad news for the struggling Chicago Blackhawks as forward Tyler Johnson will miss approximately three months after having neck surgery. Johnson has one goal and two assists in eight games in his first season with Chicago after he was acquired in a July trade with Tampa Bay. Here’s a look at two intriguing NHL matchups early this week with picks.

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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Seattle Kraken

  • When: Monday, December 6th, 2021. 10:00pm ET
  • Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington
  • Radio: 105.9 FM (Penguins) // KJR 950 AM (Kraken)
  • Live Stream: NHL Live
  • NHL Betting Odds: Pittsburgh Penguins -1

It’s also the first-ever meeting between these franchises and obviously Pittsburgh’s first-ever game in Seattle.

The Penguins are 1-2 on their road trip so far after a 4-1 win in Vancouver on Saturday. Jake Guentzel had a hat trick, his fourth career. Guentzel also collected an assist in the contest for a four-point night, the third of his career and first since Nov. 27, 2019. The 27-year-old winger has at least one point in 10 straight games with 12 goals in that span. It’s the third-longest overall points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (17 games) and Anaheim’s Troy Terry (16 games).

Sidney Crosby scored once and added a pair of assists. Crosby has been hot of late with a five-game points streak, scoring twice and adding seven assists to give him three goals and 11 points in 12 games. Defenseman Kris Letang recorded three assists in the win. Letang was in on two of Jake Guentzel’s goals and Crosby’s insurance tally in the contest. The 34-year-old Letang has six assists in his last six games. He has 16 points, 52 shots on net, 48 hits, 34 blocked shots and 18 PIM through 20 appearances overall.

Tristan Jarry made 22 saves to post a save percentage of .957. He is 11-5-4 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

“He’s been unbelievable,” said Penguins forward Danton Heinen, who played against Jarry in the Pacific Coast Bantam Hockey League as a youth. “I saw it from a young age. He’s always been good. Seeing him up close, his ability to make the big saves at the big times has been huge for us. I can’t say enough about him. He’s been great.”

Seattle upset visiting Edmonton 4-3 on Friday. Philipp Grubauer made 29 saves on 32 shots. His record now sits at 7-9-2. Within his last five games, Grubauer has picked up wins against three tough opponents in the Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and now the Oilers.

Top defenseman Mark Giordano remains in the COVID-19 protocol. Giordano hasn’t played since Oct. 24 and is still in Florida, which is where he was when he was originally put into the protocol. The Kraken, now 9-13-2, have a four-game standings points streak, winning three of four games and losing in a shootout.

NHL Betting Pick: Penguins

New York Rangers vs. Chicago Blackhawks

  • When: Tuesday, December 7th, 2021. 8:30pm ET
  • Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • Radio: 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio (Rangers) // 720 WGN (Blackhawks)
  • Live Stream: NHL Live
  • NHL Betting Odds: TBA

It’s the second straight meeting between the Original Six rivals. On Saturday, the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 3-2. Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome each had a goal and two assists in the team’s sixth straight win. Adam Fox added a goal and an assist and Alexandar Georgiev made 25 saves for New York, which has won 10 of its last 11.

Fox has a six-game scoring streak and has 24 points in 23 games this season. Fox has surpassed the Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad for the most points in the NHL among defensemen. Strome has now scored five goals and 18 total points. He has failed to register a point in just five games to date.

“We’re a confident team,” Strome said. “We’re coming to the rink expecting to win games.”

The Rangers will be without No. 1 goaltender Igor Shesterkin, whom the Rangers have given most of the credit for their third-best start in franchise history. He was placed on injured reserve Saturday. Shesterkin sustained a lower-body injury in the third period of a 1-0 win against the San Jose Sharks on Friday.

Shesterkin, who made 19 saves before being replaced by Georgiev (nine saves) with 14:52 left, is 13-3-2 with a 2.05 GAA and .937 save percentage in 18 games this season (17 starts), including 8-1-0 with a 1.76 GAA and .945 save percentage (14 goals allowed on 256 shots) in nine games since Nov. 8. Among goalies with at least 10 NHL games this season, Shesterkin is third in save percentage.

The Rangers called up goalie Adam Huska from AHL Hartford on Saturday to serve as backup to Georgiev. Huska, who was drafted by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2015 draft and is in his fourth season with the Wolf Pack, has not played a minute in the NHL.

NHL Betting Pick: Rangers

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READ MORE: Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (December 13th, 2021)