NHL Odds and Picks: Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers, Game 5
by Alan Matthews - 4/20/2012
When the Stanley Cup playoffs began, the top-seeded New York Rangers were not the favorites to win the Eastern Conference – the No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins were. But with the Pens on life support heading into Friday’s Game 5 of their series with the Flyers, the Rangers are now the 11/4 favorites according to the NHL odds to win the East, just ahead of Philadelphia.
New York better win Game 5 back at Madison Square Garden, however, on Saturday night. Otherwise, the Blue Shirts would have to win at Ottawa in Game 6. The Rangers scored just two combined goals in splitting the past two games at Scotiabank Place.
Senators at Rangers Betting Story Lines
If you are backing the Rangers for any playoff game, pray that it doesn’t go into overtime. Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss at Ottawa was New York’s seventh straight overtime defeat in the playoffs, a streak that dates to April 29, 2007. The Rangers blew a 2-0 lead on Wednesday to an Ottawa club that had lost its previous seven home postseason games.
Let’s get to the key injury first. That would be to Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson. The Sens’ captain and fourth-leading scorer in the regular season with 59 points has been out since suffering a concussion from a Carl Hagelin hit in Game 2. Alfredsson has been working out and coach Paul MacLean said that Alfredsson is making some progress and that "he's feeling better all the time," but he is out for Game 5 and didn’t even travel with the team to New York. Alfredsson, 39, has played 109 postseason games in his 16-season career, all with Ottawa, and scored 46 playoff goals.
The Senators aren’t sure if they’ll have winger Jesse Winchester (eight points in 32 regular-season games) for Game 5, either. He suffered an upper body injury in the second period of Wednesday’s win and didn’t return to the game.
Ottawa has been a different club since role players and bruisers Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka were inserted into the lineup after being healthy scratches for Game 1. On Wednesday, Carkner came out of the penalty box to accept a Jason Spezza pass and send Milan Michalek in for the Sens’ first goal to begin the comeback. And Konopka has won 17 of 23 draws the past two games. Those two are making sure the Rangers aren’t pushing the Sens around, which they did in Game 1. That also happened to be the only game decided by two goals, with the Rangers winning 4-2.
The Blue Shirts have just five total goals since then. It’s pretty clear the Rangers have missed Hagelin; he was suspended three games for that hit and will miss this one as well. The speedy rookie was a catalyst for the Rangers’ top line alongside Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. In two playoff games, Hagelin had one assist. In 64 regular-season games, he had 14 goals and 24 assists. In Hagelin's place the Rangers have dressed recently signed rookie Chris Kreider and put him on the top line. But he played just 3:24 in Game 4. In reality, Brandon Prust is getting a majority of Hagelin’s minutes. Neither Kreider nor Prust has a point.
Meanwhile, coach John Tortorella split up the duo of Gaborik and Richards on Wednesday for a while in the game and it’s not clear if that will carry over to Game 5. The Rangers have scored just two even-strength goals in the last 201:30 and both of them were by Brian Boyle.
Senators at Rangers Betting Odds and Key Trends
New York is a -170 favorite for Game 5 with Ottawa at +155; the total is 5. Ottawa is 1-4 in its past five games when its opponent scores two goals or less in the previous games. The Sens are just 3-13 in their past 16 as a dog. They are 0-4 in their past four games playing on two days’ rest. The under hasn’t hit in Ottawa’s seven road games.
The Rangers are 8-1 in their past nine on two days’ rest. New York is 2-5 in its last seven games when its opponent allows two goals or less in its previous game. The under has hit just once in the Rangers’ past nine playoff games as a favorite. The underdog has won 10 of the past 14 in this series.
Senators at Rangers Betting Prediction
It’s no fluke that Ottawa is battling New York even in this one as the Sens beat the Rangers three times in four tries during the regular season. But at the same time, the Senators have yet to skate with the lead once in this series – the only two times they have led were the overtime winners in Games 2 and 4. If you can bet on a prop on which team scores first in Game 5, take New York as it has in all four games.
And Rangers fans shouldn’t panic that this will go at least six games. Five of the last six Stanley Cup champions have been extended to at least six games in the opening round of the playoffs – the 2007 Ducks were the only club to avoid it. That year, the Ducks beat these Senators in the Stanley Cup Finals.
If Alfredsson were healthy, I would probably take the underdog Sens for this one with Hagelin out again. But the Rangers will send it back to Ottawa with a series lead after a 3-1 win (so take the under).
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