When we were struggling in January it seemed as if we’d never get out of that hole. When you continue to lose and catch bad breaks along the way, frustration builds up and it seems as if you’re never going to win another bet as long as you live.
Fast forward to March and the sentiment has done a full 180. Thanks to a Rangers obliteration of the Flyers on Wednesday, we’re now 9-1 over our last 10 picks and have surged well into profit territory after being down as many as nine units in January.
I had the Rangers as +113 home underdogs on Wednesday, and early on it was a close game. The Rangers broke the ice 7:05 in, and an Artemi Panarin goal had the Rangers leading 2-0 after one.
And then came the second period.
New York enjoyed the single most dominant period of the NHL season as they hung seven (!!!) second-frame goals on the poor Flyers, highlighted by Mika Zibanejad’s six-point period. The scuffling Zibanejad assisted on the first three goals of the period before scoring the next three himself, collecting as many goals in a 10-minute span as he had scored across the first 27 games of his season. Incredible.
With the win, we notched a 1.13-unit profit as we look to stay scorching hot with this Rangers vs. Capitals pick from Washington!
- Season Record: 27-24
- Units: +2.50
Rangers vs. Capitals Betting Odds
- Rangers (+120)
- Capitals (-133)
- Rangers +1.5 (-205)
- Capitals -1.5 (+175)
- Over 6.5 (+107)
- Under 6.5 (-118)
Rangers vs. Capitals NHL Pick Breakdown
Of course, no one saw nine goals coming from the Rangers a couple nights back, but what I did expect was this offensive to at least improve some moving forward. With the return of Artemi Panarin, it’s not difficult to envision this group rolling a little bit moving forward.
After Wednesday’s blasting of the Flyers, the Rangers now sit right in the middle of the pack at 15th with an even 3.00 goals per game on the season while their power play interestingly remains 27th at 14.6% on the campaign. It’s pretty amazing that eight of the Rangers’ nine goals on Wednesday came at even strength as their power play went 1 for 4 on the night.
While I do expect this offense to score more moving forward than they did in the first half of the season, the advanced metrics aren’t so sure. At 5v5, the Rangers rank 23rd in scoring chances for/60, and 18th in both high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. Additionally, their 2.69 goals for/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 2.14 expected mark, and while the former was boosted big-time by Wednesday’s output, it certainly appears the Rangers are scoring well over their heads at even-strength, although they’re hardly the only team doing so.
The top-six certainly had a big night on Wednesday, but the Rangers’ offense looks awfully deep with the group back fully healthy at the moment, and are certainly carrying plenty of momentum into this one.
The team’s single-biggest issue from a season ago, the Rangers’ defense has shaped up in a big way this season.
Overall, the team ranks 11th with 2.68 goals against per game on the season while their penalty kill continues to excel in the form of a third-ranked 85.9% mark on the campaign. Not bad for a group that was largely a bottom-third defense last season before rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin stole the show down the home stretch.
What’s more is that the underlying metrics support such stout work. At 5v5, the Rangers rank 13th in scoring chances against/60, 11th in high-danger chances against/60 and eighth in expected goals against/60 on the campaign. Their 2.33 goals against/60 at 5v5 is actually above their 2.03 expected mark, so this Rangers back end has certainly been very good this season and could get even better when factoring in the efficient PK.
Adam Fox returned from a one-game stay on the NHL’s protocol list for Wednesday’s win, and this group is once again as healthy as it gets at the moment.
Largely lost in the Rangers’ offensive showing on Wednesday was the fact netminder Alexandar Georgiev posting a shutout after struggling mightily in the month of March previously.
With Shesterkin sidelined with a groin issue, Georgiev has seen the bulk of starts in his absence, but the results were quite poor. Across the first four starts of the month for the 24-year-old Russian, Georgiev sported a ghastly 5.56 GAA and .800 Sv%. Of course, those are largely unsustainable numbers for any NHL goaltender, but Georgiev has shown glimpses of No. 1 potential and owned a career .910 Sv% despite loads of rubber coming his way so far in his NHL career.
Wednesday’s shutout of a Flyers offense that had been scoring plenty of goals increases his numbers to a 3.01 GAA and .897 Sv% on the season. Of course, the numbers are still lacking, but that four-start stretch in the month of March has largely done him in number-wise so far, but the Russian also posted a 2.34 GAA and .925 Sv% in four February outings, so he’s certainly capable of going on a run.
After getting his confidence back last time out, don’t be surprised if Georgiev finds a groove moving forward.
Georgiev will certainly have his hands full tonight against one of the most potent offenses the NHL has to offer.
The red-hot Capitals — winners of six in a row with 4.50 goals per game during that stretch — now rank second with 3.48 goals per game on the season while their 27.4% clip on the power play checking in at sixth league wide. That power play is 3 for its last 8 over their last three contests.
It would appear Washington is scoring more than deserved based on the advanced data. Surprisingly, the Capitals rank 28th in terms of scoring chances for/60, 27th in high-danger chances for/60 and 27th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 action this season. Their 3.03 goals/60 at 5v5 is astronomically above their 1.98 expected mark, so while the power play has been a major boon to the offense, their 5v5 offense is set to cool off in a big way, if you believe the peripherals.
Predictably, the Capitals own the NHL’s highest 5v5 shooting rate at 11.03%. Two years ago, they led the NHL with a 10.09% mark while last year’s leader was the Tampa Bay Lightning at 9.71%. While the elite skill up front usually sports a high shooting rate in D.C., their current mark would appear due for regression. Furthermore when we factor in that they sport a 19.59% shooting rate overall over their last four games, it’s certainly a group due to regress, especially considering they have recorded only 23 shots or fewer in three of their last four.
While the offense is due to cool, the defense has been rather unlucky this season it would appear.
Overall, the Capitals are tied for 17th with 2.97 goals against per game on the season while their penalty kill ranks 12th with a solid 80.9% mark. They’ve allowed just one goal over their last two games, although the penalty kill is at just 62.5% over their last four despite winning all of those games.
That said, the underlying data suggest this group has been better than it may appear. At 5v5 this season, the Capitals rank fourth in scoring chances against/60, seventh in high-danger chances against/60 and fourth again in expected goals against/60. Their 2.27 goals against/60 is above their 1.94 expected mark, so perhaps the overall number could improve moving forward, although it’s not a huge separation between actual goals against and expected goals against. Goaltending also plays a factor to be sure.
Like the Rangers, the Capitals’ back end is healthy and at full capacity, so it should be interesting to see if they can cool off this Rangers offense that’s averaged 5.67 goals per game over their last three.
Even with the return of presumed No. 1 Ilya Samsonov, Vitek Vanecek continues to get a timeshare between the pipes for the Caps. They’ve largely split starts since Samsonov has returned, and after Samsonov earned the win over the red-hot Islanders on Tuesday, it will be Vanecek getting the nod in this one tonight.
Like with Georgiev, Vanecek notched a bounce-back shutout his last time out, stopping all 23 shots he faced against the lowly Sabres on Monday night in Buffalo.
The 25-year-old has posted a 2.74 GAA and .908 Sv% across 21 starts in his rookie NHL season after surprisingly being thrust into No. 1 duties early on. He’s certainly yielded some volatile results here in the month of March, allowing four goals in two of his four outings but just one combined over the other two. One thing that’s been common is a lack of shots against as he’s faced an average of 22.8 shots per game for the month.
We’ll see if the Vanecek can turn in back-to-back quality outings in this one tonight.
Rangers vs. Capitals NHL Pick
The surging Capitals present a big-time challenge for a Rangers team that is coming off their biggest blowout win in years, but I believe they’ll have their hands full in this one.
That Washington offense has been incredibly fortunate not only for the season, but of late. A near-20% shooting rate over a four-game stretch is absurd and the Caps just haven’t been generating much in terms of shots on goal and the underlying metrics suggest they’ve generated opportunities at a bottom-five rate.
The Rangers’ metrics aren’t great, but given how the defense has played this season and with Georgiev bouncing back in a major way on Wednesday, there’s plenty of momentum to be had.
Some may be fading the Rangers’ momentum against a white-hot Washington team, but I believe there’s more than enough evidence here to back the road underdogs at quality value tonight.