Bruins vs. Rangers NHL Odds & Pick: The Blueshirts Are a Live Underdog on Friday Night (Feb. 26)
Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron
- Still without star forward Artemi Panarin, the Rangers enter Friday night's matchup with the Bruins as heavy underdogs.
- The Bruins are missing a few key players of their own and are coming off a rough performance against the Islanders on Thursday night.
- Michael Leboff explains why he thinks the price on New York is too great to ignore.
Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers Odds
|Time||Friday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday at noon ET and via BetMGM.|
It isn’t everyday that geo-political matters have an impact on betting an NHL game, but there’s really very little that surprises us these days. Malcolm Subban’s shutout against the Blue Jackets on Thursday night being the exception to the rule, of course.
Both the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are dealing with personnel issues. For the Bruins, their depth is being tested as David Krejci, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller and Ondrej Kase are either doubtful or out for Friday night’s game at MSG.
The Bruins’ “Perfection Line” is still intact and Charlie McAvoy is still running the show as their No. 1 defenseman, but Boston’s structured-game will undoubtedly suffer when important regulars like Krejci and Grzelcyk are not in the lineup.
We saw that come to fruition on Thursday night as the B’s lost to the Islanders, 7-2, in a remarkably un-Bruins-like performance. The final score did flatter the Isles quite a bit, but that’s not the main takeaway. What is of more concern is that Boston allowed 3.77 expected goals and 13 high-danger chances to the Islanders, a team that struggles to create offense on a consistent basis.
I am not concerned about Boston in the long run, the B’s are the favorite in the East Division and as long as they get healthy should be a contender for the Stanley Cup, but right now is as good a time as any to try and take on the Bruins.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The New York Rangers haven’t inspired much confidence with their start and the fact their best player, Artemi Panarin, had to take a leave of absence because of a cooked up scandal by Pro-Putin people in Russia is a big dent to their chances in this game. Not only is Panarin a bona fide MVP candidate, but he’s also one of a few Rangers who has been consistent to start the season.
While the Bruins are a team built on structure, defense and clinical finishing, the Rangers are on the other end of the spectrum. New York needs its high-end players to carry the water because there is a concerning lack of depth on its roster and calling the defense “patchwork” is actually a bit of an overstatement. The Rangers are giving regular shifts to Jack Johnson, Brendan Smith, Anthony Bitetto and Libor Hajek. Most teams can survive one — maybe two — minus players on a blueline here and there, but that’s two-thirds of New York’s blueline.
There was a plan in place for the Rangers to be able to survive their feeble defense. With a forward group that includes high-ceiling talents like Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, Chris Kreider, Alexis Lafreniere, Ryan Strome and Pavel Buchnevich, the Blueshirts should be able to create enough offense to be competitive. And on the nights that the offense isn’t cooking, New York could rely on its solid goaltending tandem to bail it out.
Unfortunately, the offense has been cold all season long. In a surprising turn of events, New York is 26th in goals per game and 27th in 5-on-5 scoring. The Rangers’ expected goals are stronger, just inside the top-10 in the NHL, but with Panarin out indefinitely it’s hard to envision any of these numbers improving over the next few games.
The good news for the Rangers is that they are catching Boston at a good time. The Bruins are on the second night of a back-to-back and are banged up. The B’s also don’t profile as a team that will blow the doors off an opponent. As solid as the Bruins are defensively, they rank fourth in the NHL in xG against at 5-on-5, they are not an offensive juggernaut at even strength, creating just 2.12 xG per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.
Additionally, the Rangers have a strong penalty kill, which could help them survive against Boston’s top-notch power play, which is clipping at nearly 29% to start the season.
Boston wins this game more likely than not and is clearly the better team in this matchup, but this price is good enough to take a chance on the Rangers, even without Panarin. The Bruins may not be missing any of their stars, but their injuries further down the lineup add up and give the Rangers a puncher’s chance to walk away with the two points on Friday.
Pick: New York Rangers +145 or better