The Vancouver Canucks lost a heart-breaker in overtime late last night for our first loss with our featured selections. Our record entering the day is now 3-1 with our feature picks, although last night’s bonus pick came through as Montreal and Ottawa played a low-scoring game and the total stayed under 5.
Today there are four pivotal contests on the NHL slate. While I would like to get involved on both Boston and the L.A. Kings, the current prices are too steep for my liking on the regular money-lines. If you can find a sportsbook that offers -1 goal-lines, that would be ideal for both of those games.
Looking elsewhere, our featured pick for today is the early game between the Rangers and Capitals. Rush to your betting accounts quickly because face-off is at 12:30 PM EDT. It’s a big Game 2 in this series and it will be intriguing to see how this one plays out given how the Caps stormed back in the latter half of the opening game. Read on below for my thoughts on this clash.
New York Rangers (+110) @ Washington Capitals (-130)
From the outset of this series I have long contended that the Rangers would end up the victorious team. While I am well aware of how dominant the Capitals finished the year, the Rangers too finished especially hot, and with some healthy bodies re-entering the fold, this is a legitimate dark-horse to compete for the Stanley Cup. After how vulnerable and disinterested the Pittsburgh Penguins looked last night, New York knows there is an opportunity in the Eastern Conference, and it’s a matter of going out there and seizing it.
A huge return for New York would be their key power forward, Ryane Clowe. Clowe is battling a mysterious upper-body injury, widely rumored to be a concussion. Whatever the case may be, by many accounts, Clowe is expected back in the mix for Saturday afternoon’s game. Clowe has been a force for the Rangers in 2013, ever since his trade from the Sharks. He brings a physical element that a soft Capitals team will struggle to match-up against, and provides size and scoring depth on multiple lines. New York carried many portions of Game 1 despite a sluggish start and I fully expect them to secure a key win in the nation’s capital today.
Another physical element from New York that could factor into the line-up is Derek Dorsett. The feisty winger can hit, fight, and score, and though he hasn’t played since March, he can be a difference-maker in any playoff series. As the Rangers inch closer to full health, expect their team to gain confidence and more depth on four lines. The Capitals too have great depth and New York must be able to match that up front if they are to stay with an explosive Washington group.
But perhaps the most intriguing return for the Blueshirts would be that of key defenseman Marc Staal. Staal has been a stalwart on the Rangers blue-line for years now, and his presence would mean a ton to New York’s back-end. He’s as solid a defender as there is in the game, and Staal could definitely slow down the likes of Ovechkin and Backstrom. Washington doesn’t like the physical component of hockey, they do not enjoy being hit, and Staal, Dorsett, and Clowe all provide that necessary element for the Rangers.
Despite the earlier-than-usual start to this game, don’t expect the Rangers to sleepwalk through the opening minutes like they did in Game 1. They will get on the body hard and force turnovers. Henrik Lundqvist remains the best goalie in the sport and will be there when needed. Washington will continue to give up too many chances and scoring opportunities, and look for a deeper Rangers attack to actually capitalize in Game 2.
The Caps are a mirage, an average team that feasted on weak Southeast division competition all season long. They’re still without key forward Brooks Laich, a huge loss with no sign of return imminent. Expect the physicality and playoff-style of a revamped New York team to wear down the depleted Caps, and have this series locked at 1-1 heading back to the Big Apple. Getting Clowe, Dorsett, and Staal back would be massive to this line-up and place immense pressure on the Caps. Race to your sportsbooks before the early puck drop, and lay the solid road value with the Rangers.
PICK = Rangers (+110)