Bruins at Rangers Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 1/23/2013
When I wrote my updated Stanley Cup odds and predictions story on the eve of the NHL’s opening day late last week, I thought the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers were the two best teams in the East. I certainly recognized the talent of the Pittsburgh Penguins but wondered about Marc-Andre Fleury in net and the durability of Sidney Crosby. In the West, my pick was the Chicago Blackhawks.
So far, the Bruins and Blackhawks are looking like top Stanley Cup contenders as are the Penguins. The Blueshirts, the preseason Cup favorites, have looked anything but. New York has started 0-2 and is tied for the worst goal differential in the NHL entering Tuesday’s action at minus-5. It’s certainly too early to panic, although that 48-game schedule does add a bit of urgency. And as the New York Post points out, the Rangers were winless through their first three games last season before reaching the Eastern Conference finals. And in the last lockout-shortened season, the Devils started winless in their first four but won the Cup.
Bruins at Rangers Betting Story Lines
About the only bright spot from Sunday’s home-opening 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh for the Rangers was the first goal of the season for new addition Rick Nash. The Rangers also got their first power-play goal (Ryan Callahan) and short-handed goal (Nash’s) on the young season. But Henrik Lundqvist has looked anything but like last year’s Vezina Trophy winner. He was pulled after stopping just 14 of 18 shots. Lundqvist didn’t get pulled for a non-injury reason all of last season. The Blueshirts also need to stop committing penalties. They are fourth in the league with 41 penalty minutes and tied for first at 12 times short-handed.
I expected the Bruins to be one of the NHL’s top defensive teams and Tuukka Rask to have a big season, and so far so good. Rask has allowed just two total goals with a terrific save percentage of .958. No one has stood out yet offensively, but nine players have one point each. The Bruins have also killed off all nine penalties thus far – no team yet to allow a power-play goal has killed off more.
There are a few injuries to be aware of here. Forward Brad Marchand, who had his first goal Monday, missed practice for Boston on Tuesday, but it may have been just a maintenance day (expect plenty of those this season around the league). Jay Pandolfo took Marchand’s place on the second line at practice. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg did practice Tuesday after missing Boston’s 2-1 shootout win over the Jets on Monday afternoon.
For the Rangers, forward Chris Kreidler, who was key in New York’s run to the East Finals last season as a rookie, did practice Tuesday. He took a huge hit from Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik on Sunday and was fortunate to avoid a concussion or broken jaw. Fellow winger Arron Ashram is questionable with a groin strain. He’s one of the Rangers’ top enforcers and dropped the gloves just two seconds in against the Pens, his former team.
Boston and New York opened the season against one another in Beantown. The Bruins won 3-1 with goals from Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille and Johnny Boychuk. Rask made 20 saves. Brad Richards had New York’s goal. The teams were a combined 0-for-12 on the power play (New York had a 90-second two-man advantage in the third but managed just two shots), and Boston outshot the Rangers, 34-21. This will be the Bruins’ first road game of the new season.
Bruins at Rangers NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
On BookMaker, the Rangers are -135 and Boston +115 with the total at five. The Bruins are 0-2 over/under this season and this is the first time they have been a dog. The Rangers are 1-1 “over/under” and 0-1 as a favorite (very slight vs. Pittsburgh).
Boston is 7-1 in its past eight road games dating to last season. The Bruins are 0-4 in their last four games when their opponent allows five goals or more in their previous game. The Rangers are 5-1 in their last six games following a home loss of three or more goals. New York is 1-5 in its past six games when its opponent scores two goals or fewer in its previous game. The under is 5-0 in Bruins’ past five after a win. Boston is 3-11 in its past 14 trips to MSG.
Bruins at Rangers Picks and Betting Predictions
The Rangers are probably toast if the Bruins have the lead entering the third period. Boston was 32-0 last season when leading after two and is 1-0 this year. New York had owned this series by winning five straight and nine of 11, but the B’s won the final regular-season meeting in April last season (at Madison Square Garden) and, of course, the 2013 opener.
I see no reason why both No. 1 goaltenders wouldn’t start this game, although I could see Lundqvist taking a seat the next night when the Rangers visit Philadelphia. I expect a bounce-back effort from King Henrik, and this will obviously be Boston’s first game of the year where it can’t dictate the line matchups being the visitor. New York and the under are the picks.
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