The St. Louis Blues are in New York at Madison Square Garden for a Tuesday night meeting against the Rangers. A couple of months or even just a month ago, this matchup would have looked like it involved only one team in the playoff picture. That isn’t the case now, as the Rangers have gotten into the playoff discussion thanks to an excellent effort in February.
I’ve said to look out for the Rangers next season, and I’m going to stick by that. This might not be their year, but they continue to show progress and could be the sleeper team of 2020-21. I’m not even sure I’d count them as a sleeper. If Igor Shesterkin stays healthy throughout the season, the Rangers are going to be on a positive path.
There is still a decent chance that the Rangers steal a wildcard in the Eastern Conference and become a playoff sleeper. They head into Tuesday with a record of 35-26-4 and 74 points on the season. That puts the Rangers 4 points behind the Blue Jackets for a wildcard. 4 points isn’t a lot to overcome with a month left on the calendar in the regular season.
The Blue Jackets have been sputtering the past few weeks, along with a host of injuries, so the door is likely going to be wide open for the Rangers or somebody else. The Hurricanes are ahead of the Rangers by a point, though that’s the only other team they’d have to jump over to get to the playoffs. Florida is within reach of the Rangers by a point.
The Blues are going to the playoffs, there isn’t much debate in St. Louis. However, which seed they end up with is up for grabs. If they finish out the season strong, then the Blues will be heading to the postseason with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference as winners of the Central Division. With the Golden Knights 8 points behind the Blues, it’s unlikely a team from the Pacific Division can catch them.
St. Louis has a 1-point advantage on the Avalanche, so there isn’t much breathing room. Colorado were in Detroit last night for a couple of free points against the hapless Red Wings. That puts some pressure on the Blues, but there wouldn’t be anything wrong with the No. 2 seed either. The Blues went to the playoffs in 2018-19 as the No. 3 team in the Central and ultimately won the Stanley Cup. Head below for our free Blues vs. Rangers pick.
St. Louis Blues vs. N.Y. Rangers Betting Odds:
Blues vs. Rangers Prediction:
The Rangers dodged a bullet with the Igor Shesterkin injury. It initially looked like he was going to be out for a while with a fractured rib about getting into a car accident. However, Shesterkin recently got back on the ice for skate around and is making good progress. It’s not looking like he will be available against the Blues, but the Rangers feel confident that Shesterkin will be in the crease for the final stretch of the regular season. Alex Georgiev is slated to get the nod for this one. The Rangers wanted to move Georgiev at the trade deadline, but ultimately kept him without a proper deal. They lucked out a bit in that regard with Shesterkin out of commission.
Georgiev is a step down from Shesterkin, though. Shesterkin is the future at Madison Square Garden between the pipes. Georgiev is likely going to be playing elsewhere at some point in the near future. He hasn’t done much to instill much confidence in signing him, however. Georgiev owns a 3.02 GAA and 0.912 save percentage.His numbers worsen at MSG a tick, with a 3.22 GAA and 0.895 save percentage at home.
Georgiev has just about matched his average against the Blues in his career, as he’s posted a 2.97 GAA in two outings against them. Overall on the season, the Rangers have yielded an average of 3.09 goals allowed per game. That’s good for 19th in the NHL. It might not be good enough to reach the playoffs, though. They catch a break getting the Blues at home instead of on the road tonight. The Blues are a different beast in St. Louis, though very beatable on the road, especially Jordan Binninington in net.
Binnington has been more than fine at home, as he owns a 2.21 GAA and 0.918 save percentage. Conversely, his numbers crash to a 3.22 GAA and 0.90 save percentage on the road. The Rangers are 6th in the league with 3.32 goals per contest, along with 3.5 goals a game in their previous ten games. They’ve quietly been producing at an effective rate to get them into playoff contention.
Artemi Panarin has been an excellent addition to the Rangers, and he’s gotten progressively hotter throughout the year. He has 32 goals and 58 assists to lead the team in points with 90. In any event, it’s possible that the Blues can still win if Binnington is his usual self on the road. The offence has been clicking for them as well, with 3.4 goals per game in their last ten showings. This game is likely going to be tighter than the Blues hope for on Tuesday night. The Rangers will keep fighting. I think we’re looking at a 3-3 game in the latter stages of the contest for a win on the OVER.