The New York Rangers have truly reinvented themselves. Once a team who could only win the 2-1, 3-2 kind of games, the offence has come to life for the Rangers in 2016-17. If they had just an ounce of this kind of offence in prior seasons, they would have won a Stanley Cup by now. They have been good at putting the puck in the net, very good in fact. The Rangers were a team who depended on the talent of Henrik Lundqvist in net. They don’t really need Lundqvist now, but would certainly appreciate him to play a key role in their season. The Rangers’ defence hasn’t been awful either, but the team has been playing so well on the other end of the ice that it’s overshadowing the other end. Not that defence has been playing at an elite level, but they haven’t been too bad.
The Rangers will take on the Flames in Calgary tonight, who are still searching for some defence. They don’t appear to be any better from last year, and at many times this season, they look much worse. The Flames thought that Brian Elliott was going to cure their problems around the net. However, the puck is still finding its way in the back of the net, and the Flames aren’t any better than they were. Elliott is either relaxing too much after getting his fat new contract, or thinking too much because of the bigger dollar signs.
I have to say it’s because he’s thinking too much at this point. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who would talk the money and run. However, even if the Flames go to Chad Johnson, it’s the same result, getting trounced with the red light on and the puck in the back of the net. When two goaltenders who have had good moments in the past are getting lit up with ease, there is probably an issue that goes beyond goaltending. In Calgary, this is assumption is safe to say.
The Flames are not going to find it any easier tonight. The defence and Elliott are going to be working overtime, and I don’t necessarily mean that this game goes to overtime. Lundvist vs Elliott would have had the makings for an epic goalie showdown when Elliott was with the Rangers, but it isn’t the case in a Flames’ jersey. Calgary are 28th in the NHL, allowing 3.60 goals per game. It’s a far cry from how Elliott spent his time in St. Louis, on a team who frequently ranked amongst the best defences in the NHL. The Rangers will be looking to keep their heads hanging low, as they are coming in with an offence who has been above and beyond the best unit in the league.
The Rangers are averaging 4.14 goals scored per game, which is clearly the number 1 offence in the NHL. Note that this is almost a whole goal better than the 2nd place Chicago Blackhawks, who are netting 3.33 goals a game. The Rangers have scored at least 5 goals in five of their last six games. Their good fortunes, though, came to an end last game against the Vancouver Canucks, 5-3. I expect a much better effort around their own net tonight, playing much better defence while getting the offence going against the putrid Flames blue liners. The Rangers look poised to earn a win tonight, sending the Flames to their fourth straight loss.
PICK: RANGERS TO WIN -130