NHL Odds & Pick for Rangers vs. Bruins: Can New York Upset the B’s on Friday Night? (Feb. 12)
Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: David Pastrnak
- Winners of four straight games, the Bruins look to stay hot at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
- The Rangers are off to a slow start this season, but there is plenty of talent to turn things around quickly.
- Michael Leboff breaks down where he sees betting value in this matchup.
Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers Odds
It turns out that the Boston Bruins are still quite good. After a disappointing showing in The Bubble and an offseason that saw them lose Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, there were some folks out there that thought the B’s might take a step back in 2021. Nine wins from their first 12 games have quieted those murmurs.
The Bruins are -177 favorites as they go hunting for their fifth win on the spin in New York on Friday night.
It isn’t surprising how the Bruins have achieved their success so far in 2021. Boston is still playing its signature low-event, defense-first style to great aplomb. The Bruins rank first overall in expected goals against per 60 minutes, first in shot attempts allowed and fourth in high-danger scoring chances allowed.
Despite those sparkling defensive numbers, Boston’s 5-on-5 goal share is actually under 50% on the season. The Bruins are allowing 1.95 goals against per 60 minutes through their first 12 games but only scoring 1.88 goals per 60. You’d expect those numbers to flip, and then some, over the course of the season but the Bruins are never going to be a 5-on-5 scoring dynamo. Instead, they rely on their defense to do the heavy lifting and hope to get a moment of magic from their top line or power play to create some separation.
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.
Speaking of the power play, Boston is once again near the top of the league in special teams, too. The B’s are converting at 31.6% on the man advantage and 88.4% on the penalty kill, ranking sixth and second respectively.
New York Rangers
There were some legitimate reasons to believe that the Rangers would be able to push for a playoff spot in the East Division in 2021. Brimming with high-end talent, the Blueshirts seemed to have enough scoring punch through their ranks to make up for their defensive shortcomings and lack of depth. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case as the Rangers are not scoring nearly enough to get
Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere have comebined for a measly 11 total points on the season, meaning that if Artemi Panarin doesn’t go off the Rangers don’t have a chance to win. Panarin, who paces the team with 15 points, is the only Ranger in double-digits to start the campaign.
For a team that is built to succeed through offensive prowess, getting pedestrian performances from four of its most important forwards could torpedo the season before we get much further.
The Rangers have been better defensively this season, ranking in the middle of the pack in expected goals against (2.31) and goals against (2.41) at 5-on-5. Those numbers aren’t going to jump off the page, but they should play for a team that was seemingly able to score at will over the second half of last season.
Betting Analysis & Pick
It’s pretty hard to step in front of the Bruins right now but there’s a chance this number floats high enough to have a go on the Rangers. After opening at -165, the Bruins have unsurprisingly taken money and shortened to -177 as of Friday morning.
Twelve games into a season is still a little early to make sweeping judgments about a team, but in a shortened campaign, you only have so much runway to work with. I feel pretty confident that we know what type of unit the Bruins will be over the course of the season. They’re a bear to deal with at 5-on-5, looking to suffocate the game and then take advantage of a mistake to put their opponent behind the 8-ball.
As for the Rangers, it’s all a bit confusing. It’s hard to believe that the offense will be this vanilla all season, but even if that regression does come, there are still plenty of reasons to be skeptical. There’s no depth, the defense is still unimpressive and the goaltending has been around league average.
That said, there is a reason to invest in New York if this number gets high enough on Friday. The Bruins do struggle to score at 5-on-5 and typically play low-event games, so if the Rangers can limit their mistakes and drag the Bruins deep into the game — much like they did in their OT loss on Wednesday — they can turn this game into a coin flip. In a tight game, the Rangers have enough starpower to create a game-winning moment and steal the points. Whether or not those stars show up is a different story entirely, though.
Update: Artemi Panarin has been ruled out of tonight’s game with an injury. Without Panarin, I would need +170 or better to have a play on the Rangers.