Last night was one of those nights that started well, and even looked good late, but resulted in a small loss.
Not many thought the Maple Leafs could bounce back against the Penguins as -111 home favorites last night after Tuesday’s disaster, but I liked their chances.
Indeed, the Maple Leafs took over the game in the second period, scoring three times while they added a fourth early in the third while holding a high-octane Penguins offense to just two third-period shots en route to a clean 4-0 win.
At about the same time, however, I had the Washington Capitals to beat the slumping Montreal Canadiens in regulation at -125.
The Caps scored first and held a 2-1 lead until late in the second, but the Canadiens scored the next two goals and while the Capitals tied it late, the game went to overtime and my pick was toast. The Canadiens capped the upset on Ben Chiarot’s OT winner.
That said, we bounced right back into the win column shortly after that one, with authority as I had the under 5.5 between the Blues and Coyotes.
The game could not have been lower scoring, in fact, as the 1-0 Blues final sat well under the total while the Coyotes didn’t even come close to scoring with a whopping 14 shots on goal in that one. Furthermore, the Blues have allowed just 31 shots and zero goals over their last two games.
As a result, we were set up nicely to enjoy a nice night if the Panthers could take care of a watered-down Kings team that is the worst in the Western Conference.
To the Kings’ credit, they continue to play hard and they got their offense going in this one, scoring five times despite allowing four of their own in an eventful 5-4 win as home underdogs.
Add it up and 2-2 splits cost us 0.58 units and the picks have gone fairly cold the last three nights, going 5-6 in that time.
Let’s put that one behind us and move onto tonight’s seven-game Friday night schedule!
Season Record: 101-87-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Rangers vs. Hurricanes from Raleigh!
Rangers vs. Hurricanes Betting Odds
- Rangers (+145)
- Hurricanes (-161)
- Rangers +1.5 (-180)
- Hurricanes -1.5 (+160)
- Over 6.5 (+107)
- Under 6.5 (-118)
Rangers vs. Hurricanes NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these teams before I get into my final pick!
Are the Rangers making a charge towards the postseason?
It sure looks that way as they have won five of their last six games and sit six points back of the Hurricanes for the second Wild Card spot, but also seven points back of the Blue Jackets who told the top Wild Card spot, but also have three games in hand.
While it’s still unlikely they get in, they’re playing their best hockey of the season right now and are coming off a 6-3 win in Chicago where they scored five times in the third period.
That Rangers offense refuses to quit as they’ve crept up the rankings all season long.
They now sit ninth with 3.14 goals per game on the road this season where their power play ranks 13th with an even 20% clip.
That road offense has been hot of late, tallying 14 goals over their last three away from Madison Square Garden.
They’ve also made strides defensively of late, allowing just seven goals over their last three games and and just 12 goals over their last six contests.
All the sudden they’re almost in the top-half of the league at 16th with 3.11 goals against per game on the road where their penalty kill sits 10th with an 81.1% mark.
While the defense has improved from a structural standpoint, it’s also improved in accordance with elite young netminder Igor Shesterkin.
The 24-year-old Shesterkin was a brick wall for the last three seasons in the KHL before moving over to North America this year, and he’s been more than advertised to this point in his young NHL career.
All he’s done in eight NHL starts is post a 2.28 GAA and .939 Sv% while putting together a 2.11 GAA and .952 Sv% in his two road starts at the NHL level so far.
It would appear that the Rangers are in good hands with their goaltending while also having fellow youngster Alexandar Georgiev playing at high level as well.
Where the Rangers struggle is in the possession game.
At 5v5 on the road, they rank 29th with a 45.92% Corsi For%, 27th with a 45.45% Scoring Chances For% and 23rd with a 44.68% High-Danger Chances For%.
However, of late, those possession numbers have meant very little, apparently.
The Hurricanes enter this one playing some quality hockey themselves in winning four of their last six games to hang tough in the Wild Card race in the east.
As mentioned, the Rangers are creeping up that race, so this is certainly a big game for both clubs and could go a long way in determining whether the Rangers can indeed shock the hockey world by getting in.
It’s going to be difficult, however, against a Hurricanes team that is 19-9-2 on home ice this season.
Offensively, the ‘Canes haven’t had much problem scoring goals at home where they rank 14th with 3.33 goals per game while their home power play sits 13th with a quality 21.8% clip.
That offense has been clicking of late, averaging four goals per game over their last three and that same four goals per game average over their last six.
Defensively, this is a good hockey club, although they’ve had some struggles in that area of late.
The Hurricanes rank eighth with 2.57 goals against per game at home this season where their penalty kill owns a strong 83.5% mark, good for 13th league wide.
That said, the Hurricanes allowed four goals per game over a six-game stretch prior to a 4-1 win over the Predators their last time out.
Where the Hurricanes excel is in the possession game, unlike their opponent in this one.
At 5v5 at home, Carolina ranks second with a 55.61 Corsi For%, third with a 57.63% Scoring Chances For% and fourth with a 56.72% High-Danger Chances For%.
Those are indeed some elite numbers and it would not be a surprise to see the Hurricanes dominate the puck possession and scoring chance share in this one despite the Rangers’ offense being rather opportunistic.
Getting the nod in goal for the home side tonight will be Petr Mrazek coming off that strong 29-save effort in the aforementioned win over Predators.
Since getting torched by the Blues back on February 4th, Mrazek has been on a roll in going 2-1-0 with a .941 Sv% over his last three starts. He turned aside 35 of 37 New Jersey Devil shots in his last appearance on home ice.
He hasn’t fared well against these Rangers this season, however, going 0-2-0 with an .860 Sv% in two starts against the blueshirts on the season.
To me, this one is a little tough as I can make a case for both teams here.
The Rangers are obviously hot right now and their offense has been very good for much of the season, and combined with an improved defense and excellent goaltending, that’s a nice recipe for a road upset.
However, the Hurricanes are an elite home team that dominates the possession game in their own barn while playing stout defense and certainly scoring enough to win, and some.
As a result, I wasn’t comfortable either either team on the moneyline or puckline in this one.
So, I turned my attention to the total, and I think it’s a little high as I was expecting a six-goal total.
A couple of quality offenses to be sure, but as mentioned, the Hurricanes are a very good home defense riding a hot netminder at the moment while the Rangers’ defense has improved along with the elite goaltending of Shesterkin.
In his eight starts, we haven’t seen any team get the best of him, so until that happens, I won’t be convinced that a team can light him up.
At the other end, Mrazek has been hot of late and owns a very nice 2.41 GAA and .911 Sv% in 22 home outings.
I think this game has the makings of a 3-2 score for one of these two clubs, but I’m quite comfortable with a relatively low-scoring affair either way in this one tonight.