I made a quarter of free NHL picks last night and the night started off on a wonderful note and ended on a sour night in what resulted in a 2-2 night and a minuscule loss in terms of units.
I debated taking the Avalanche on the puckline yesterday, but settled on the three-way moneyline (regulation) price of -120 in Buffalo.
The puckline certainly would have worked out though as the Avs thoroughly dominated the Sabres from start to finish and ran away with an easy 6-1 road win, getting out night started on the right note.
Next, I had the Islanders on the moneyline at -125 odds to take care of the visiting Stars who were playing their second game in as many nights.
We were a little fortunate here as the Stars held a 3-2 lead late before the Islanders tied the game on a power play with just over three minutes left. They would cap the comeback with an Anthony Beauvillier goal in overtime and give us a 2-0 night to start.
It was a night full of close games, and the remaining two picks were close but no cigar.
I had the Ottawa Senators on the moneyline at -107 to beat the visiting Ducks. This game needed extra time as well, and went all the way to a shootout but the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell buried the shootout winner and delivered us a loss.
Finally, I had the Jets as slight home underdogs at +107 against the visiting Predators, and this one was close as well.
The Jets led 1-0 but the Predators made it a 1-1 game late in the first. That would be all the scoring in regulation as this game also went to overtime where the Preds’ Mikael Granlund scored the winner, sunk or pick and gave us a 2-2 night.
All told, we dropped a tiny 0.07 units on what finished as a disappointing night after such a promising start.
Nonetheless, we’ll move onto tonight’s small two-game NHL schedule and will look to get back into profit territory in the process.
Season Record: 88-78-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Maple Leafs vs. Rangers from Madison Square Garden in New York!
Maple Leafs vs. Rangers Betting Odds
- Maple Leafs (-133)
- Rangers (-125)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (+170)
- Rangers +1.5 (-195)
- Over 7 (+118)
- Under 7 (-130)
Maple Leafs vs. Rangers NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
The Maple Leafs will be in search of a bounce back from a gut-wrenching loss to the Panthers on Monday in which they dominated the game, the shot count and the scoring chances share but still dropped a 5-3 decision to snap a three-game win streak.
However, they’ll back out on the road where they’ve been good this season and especially good of late.
The Maple Leafs have gone 15-11-0 on the road this season and beat the Predators and Stars on a mini two-game road trip out of the break by a combined 10-5 score.
The offensive output on the road is nothing new for the Maple Leafs as they’ll enter this one ranked first in the NHL with 3.81 goals per game on the road where their power play sits fifth with a 25.4% clip.
The Maple Leafs have scored at least four goals in 10 consecutive games on the road, a streak that includes a 6-3 win in Madison Square Garden over the Rangers back on December 20th.
It’s the defensive side of the puck that continues to be a worry for this team and continue to hinder their chances of getting into the postseason.
The Maple Leafs are tied for 22nd with 3.35 goals against per game on the road where their penalty kill sits 27th with a 74.6% mark.
That back end will also be missing a huge piece tonight in the form of goaltender Frederik Andersen who left Monday’s game against the Panthers during the first intermission and did not come out for the second.
With Andersen day-to-day with a neck injury, it will be up to backup Michael Hutchinson for at least this game tonight, and he has not been good this season.
Hutchinson allowed three goals on just 11 shots in relief of Andersen on Monday and almost single-handedly cost the Maple Leafs to lose that one.
He’ll enter this one sporting a 3.62 GAA and .886 Sv% on the season with that save percentage ranking 59th of 62 goalies this season with at least 10 appearances.
He’s been better over his last four starts as he’s gone 4-0-0 with a .948 Sv% in those outings, although it’s been against soft offenses versus the Red Wings, Devils, Islanders and Senators.
In his three relief appearances of Andersen in the last few weeks, he’s posted a .783 SV%.
Hutchinson will have a positive puck possession team playing ahead of him in this one, one that will be up against a weak possession team.
At 5v5 on the road, the Maple Leafs rank fifth with a 52.28 Corsi For%, second with a 52.31% Scoring Chances For% and sixth with a 51.27% High-Danger Chances For%.
That said, the Maple Leafs are going to need to capitalize on their opportunities tonight in support of a goaltender who is likely to surrender some offense in this one.
The Rangers have won six of their last 10 games, however they were dealt a 5-3 loss to the Stars their last time out despite outshooting them by a 36-21 count and going 3 for 3 on the power play.
It was the third loss in four home games for a Rangers team that has dropped to 14-11-2 at MSG.
Still, the offense and power play mostly showed up in this one and that’s not a surprise for this team pretty much wherever they play.
The Rangers are tied for sixth with 3.48 goals per game at home this season and their power play now sits fourth with a 26.6% mark at home as well.
After going a cool 3 for 3 on the man advantage on Monday, the Rangers are now clicking at 53.8% (7 for 13) over their last four games, but also 41.9% (13 for 31) over their last 10.
Needless to say, their power play is the best in the business right now and could have their way with a weak Maple Leafs penalty kill in this one.
Like the Leafs, however, the defensive side of the puck has been a concern in New York this season.
The Rangers enter this one tied for 22nd with 3.15 goals against per game at home while their 76.9% mark on the penalty kill at home ranks them 25th league wide.
That penalty kill has struggled of late as they allowed two power play goals on Monday for the second time in four games and own just a 50% mark in that time (4 for 8).
Going a little further back, the Rangers own a 70% mark on the penalty kill over their last eight.
I noted above that the Rangers are a weak possession team, perhaps the weakest in the NHL to be honest.
At home at 5v5 action this season, the Rangers rank 29th with a 47.08% Corsi For%, 28th with a 48.15% Scoring Chances For% and 23rd with a 51.09% High-Danger Chances For%.
If they’re able to capitalize on the chances they do get tonight they could be in good hands as their confirmed starter Igor Shesterkin has been real good in his brief NHL work this season.
He’s made just four NHL starts so far, but he’s worked to a 2.51 GAA and .927 Sv% in that time, which isn’t surprising considering his eye-popping resume prior to coming to North America this season.
Shesterkin posted a 1.90 GAA and .934 Sv% in 25 AHL contests at Hartford prior to his NHL promotion, but that’s not even the most impressive part.
Here are Shesterkin’s numbers in the KHL in three seasons prior to making the leap to North America:
- 2016-17: 39 GP, 1.64 GAA / .937 Sv%
- 2017-18: 28 GP, 1.69 GAA / .933 Sv%
- 2018-19: 28 GP, 1.11 GAA / .953 Sv%
Keep in mind that three-season stretch began when he was just 20 years old, dominating the second-best hockey league on the planet.
Needless to say, the 24-year-old is the Rangers’ goaltender of the future and will get his stiffest test yet after taking on the Devils, Blue Jackets and Red Wings over his last three games, posting a .933 Sv% in that time.
The Maple Leafs offense has carried them to victory quite often of late, and as noted, they’re the best in the business on the road where they lit up any and all opponents over the last 10 games.
However, that road offense has met its match tonight against a very good Rangers home offense and one that has been white-hot on the power play.
While I’m not sure I have a ton of confidence in a weak Maple Leafs road penalty kill to cool them off, I certainly don’t have that confidence with Hutchinson in goal.
He’s defeated inferior competition in his last four starts, but has been torched on the whole this season and has posted a 4.73 GAA and .861 Sv% in six starts and seven appearances on the road this season.
He’s allowed at least four goals in every road start this season and five in three of his last four.
I just cannot trust a goaltender playing this bad against an offense that has been this good and a power play that is the best in the NHL right now.
The Maple Leafs have a lethal offense and power play as well, but at least Shesterkin has been excellent this season and is giving the Rangers a massive advantage between the pipes.
It could very well be a high-scoring affair, but there’s also a huge seven-goal total and that’s an awfully high number to get to eight goals, although I’m not ruling it out.
That said, I am seeing more value in the home underdogs here.
It’s not going to be easy, but I think the Rangers are going to put up plenty of offense in this one and I think Shesterkin has the ability to keep a deadly Maple Leafs road offense at bay tonight.
Give me the home dogs to win this one on the moneyline tonight.