Rangers at Canadiens Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/30/2013
Are the New York Rangers actually showing fiscal restraint? Or do they not have much that teams want in trade? The Blueshirts were never going to get Calgary star Jarome Iginla, who shockingly landed with the absolutely loaded Pittsburgh Penguins. Iginla didn’t have the Rangers among the few teams he would waive his no-trade clause for. Iginla would be exactly what the Rangers need as somehow the talented group ranks second-to-last in the NHL in goals per game at 2.27. Think New York is happy he’s going to Pittsburgh? That would be a no. The Pens have won seven straight against New York and have outscored it 12-3 in three wins this year. That could be a first-round playoff matchup.
One potential problem holding up any deal is that New York doesn’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, which is considered loaded. The Rangers gave that up to Columbus in the Rick Nash deal. Any team would likely ask for a J.T. Miller, Michael Del Zotto or Chris Kreider in any trade of substance. That’s not to say New York isn’t looking ahead of the April 3 deadline. Some names bandied about have been San Jose’s Ryane Clowe and Dan Boyle, Buffalo’s Jason Pominville and Detroit’s Ian White. The Rangers better do something because they enter Friday’s action tied with the Islanders for the East’s final playoff spot. Can you imagine the Islanders making the postseason and not the Rangers?
As for Montreal, it continues to be the biggest surprise of the conference, a distant second in points behind Pittsburgh and a point ahead of Boston atop the Northeast Division. The Bruins were the big losers in the Iginla trade, thinking a deal was done before Iginla decided he’d rather play with Sidney Crosby and Co. because it gave him a better chance to win his first Cup. Boston certainly will do something, though, so Montreal still may as well. The Habs already made a successful deal earlier this season in acquiring winger Michael Ryder from Dallas. He has been terrific with six goals and seven assists along with a plus-6 rating in just 13 games.
Rangers at Canadiens Betting Story Lines
Montreal has been off since Wednesday, when it had one of the most unlikely wins of any team this season. The Canadiens were up two goals early in the second but found themselves down 5-3 more than midway through the third. Rookie Brendan Gallagher made it 5-4 at the 12:18 mark with his 10th goal, and Andrei Markov tied it with 8.2 seconds left on a shot that went off Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara's stick. The first six Bruins and five Habs were stopped in the shootout before Gallagher beat Tuukka Rask for the winner for a 6-5 victory, matching the Canadiens’ season high in goals. Montreal had lost three of its previous four. It was the seventh straight Montreal-Boston game decided by a lone goal, tying a record in that storied rivalry. Gallagher deserves to be a Calder finalist as he has 10 goals, nine assists and is plus-8 this year. Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher (nine goals, 15 assists) is probably the favorite.
New York couldn’t build off a nice 5-2 win at Philadelphia on Tuesday, losing 3-0 at Ottawa on Thursday for its third defeat in the past four games. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who hasn’t played near his Vezina form of last year, seemed to rip the team a bit afterward, saying: "We're playing teams that are working really hard and we have to match it. If we're not matching it we're not going to win."
There has been some talk that New York might consider an amnesty buyout of Brad Richards this offseason. He’s owed $6.67 million through 2019-20 and has been a big disappointment with five goals and 13 assists. He was dropped to the third line in the win over the Flyers and had a goal and assist, his first goal in seven games and first multi-point game since Jan. 26. Richards then again went scoreless in the loss to the Sens, managing just a shot on goal.
New York has added some help, re-signing winger Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal. He had two goals and an assist in 10 games with the Rangers last year and 23 points in 42 games the season before. The “Norwegian Hobbit” was playing in Russia’s version of the NHL (KHL) and had 11 goals and 17 assists in 44 games for Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Once his team was eliminated from the KHL playoffs, he was able to sign a pro-rated deal with New York. He was with the team Thursday but didn’t play. The debut could come in this one, although Zuccarello doesn’t come close to fixing the Rangers’ problems. He is a stud on the shootout, going 5-for-10 in his NHL career.
Rangers at Canadiens Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Canadiens are -157 and the Rangers +143 with the total at 5. New York is 9-18-6 “over/under” (2-10-3 away) and has won two of its past three as a dog. Montreal is 18-15 O/U (7-9 at home) and has won five of its past seven as a favorite.
New York is 1-5 in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. It has won just one of its past seven against the Northeast Division. The Canadiens are 5-0 in their last five games after allowing five goals or more in their previous game. They are 5-1 in their last six when their opponent scores two goals or fewer in its previous game. The under is 5-0-1 in NY’s past six against teams with a winning record. The over is 6-0 in Montreal’s past six after allowing five goals or more in their previous game. The under is 3-0-2 in the past five meetings. New York has lost its past seven in Montreal.
Rangers at Canadiens Picks and Betting Prediction
This is the final of three meetings this season, and that’s probably fine by New York It has lost the first two by a combined score of 6-1. The two games were just four days apart in mid-to-late February. Carey Price, who was pulled in the win over Boston, started both for the Habs (Lundqvist one). Nash missed both games for the Rangers due to injury.
I see no reason to take New York considering it is 0-8 against all teams from north of the border this season. If the Rangers don’t win this one, their final chance to avoid a season goose-egg is Monday at home against Winnipeg (the Rangers don’t play the Canucks, Oilers or Flames in this lockout-shortened schedule). Take the Habs and the under.
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