Rangers vs. Red Wings Pick – NHL March 4th

A short card in the NHL tonight, as Wednesdays usually are, but it provides a couple of marquee matchups that are worth taking a look at. One of those is the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have surpassed everyones expectations and are currently on pace to be a force in the playoffs. They have struggled with injuries the past couple of seasons, however this year (knock on wood) they have avoided the injury bug to key components of the team. As it goes they’ll probably suffer a season ending injury to Datsyuk because I had to speak up. Barring that injury though, we have to assume they are going to be major players when it comes playoff time. Even when they have had down seasons and the injuries, they have always been a threat in the playoffs with Mike Babcock behind the bench. Now that they are healthy it is going to be interesting to see how far they can go.

The New York Rangers have had a team capable of winning a Stanley Cup for several seasons now. They did make it to a final recently, but were unable to convert. This season they are major players, just like the Red Wings, to make it to the finals. However, unlike previous seasons, the Rangers won’t have to exclusively lean on the defense. Henrik Lunqvist has had to stand on his head to make the Rangers a contender, and while he can still do that, the offense has been able to provide extra help this season. Lundqvist can still steal a game and has had a great year at that, entering tonight with a 2.25 GAA. That is really to be expected out of the Rangers, though. The offense is what has boosted their productivity this year to a 39-17-1-5 record. Note that Lundqvist will be absent tonight, as he has been the past few weeks/ However, the Rangers have still been able to play competitive hockey with Cam Talbot installed in net.

New York Rangers @ Detroit Red Wings

This has been a big opportunity for Cam Talbot who isn’t a bad goalie in his own right. Who knows how much longer Lundqvist is going to be playing, and this could very well be an audition for another team. He has had a GAA of 2.45 this season. Not quite up to the standard of Lundqvist, but impressive nonetheless given the situation of having to jump in and play right away. The Rangers are 4th in goals allowed per game, so Talbot has been holding the fort down well. However, as I alluded to, it has been the offense that has propelled the Rangers forward. We all know about the defense, they’ve had it for years now. But this season we have seen an elite offense emerge. Especially in their last ten games they’ve been on fire, averaging 3.80 goals per game. Overall on the year the Rangers are 2nd in the NHL in scoring. They are scoring at a rate of 3.11 goals per game. Like I said, they’ve improved by leaps and bounds.

The Wings will counter with an impressive team of their own, and home ice advantage. The presence of a healthy Datsyuk has been the deciding factor in the amount of success they’ve had this season. Even then, a lot of experts did not predict the Wings would have a season in which they are sitting at 35-15-2-9. The Rangers have exceeded the Wings lately, as Detroit has scored 2.70 goals and allowed 2.80 in their last ten games. This is a team that the Red Wings have had considerable trouble with. In their last six games the Rangers have a 5-1 advantage. Consequently, when I saw this price I had to take another look. I feel like the Wings should be -115 to -120 favorites and not the current price of -130. As such, I think there is some value on the Rangers tonight. I will be playing at +117 tonight to defeat the Red Wings.