New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators Betting Odds and Picks: Will Sens Fall in Tough Schedule Spot?
Adam Hunger, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Artemi Panarin
- The Rangers are 9-8-2 on the season, but their underlying metrics have shown them to be getting a bit lucky.
- They're slight underdogs against the Senators (10-11-1) Friday, so is there any value in betting on Ottawa?
- Michael Leboff previews the game and makes his pick below.
Rangers at Senators Odds
- Rangers odds: -105
- Senators odds: -115
- Over/Under: 6.5
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
The great thing about having talented players on your hockey team is that talent can often cover up flaws. There aren’t many scoring events in a given hockey game, so a moment of magic can be all a team needs to steal two points in a game in which it was second best. It’s what makes hockey great. It’s what makes hockey frustrating.
The New York Rangers have some talented hockey players — Artemi Panarin, for example. He’s pretty darn good. But the Rangers also have some deep flaws as a hockey team this season, specifically on defense.
Through 22 games, the Rangers rank dead last in expected goals against, high-danger scoring chances against and shot attempts against per 60 minutes (5-on-5, score + venue adjusted). Somehow, the Blueshirts have managed to skate to a 9-8-2 record in spite of their defensive transgressions.
The Rangers’ defense has improved a little over their last 10 games, but even in that span they are giving up 2.66 xGA/60, which ranks 30th in the circuit.
Offensively, the Rangers are a little better off. New York averages 2.18 expected goals for (17th) and 11.1 high-danger chances for (7th) per 60 minutes.
Regression does look to be looming, however, as the Rangers’ 2.77 goals per hour outpaces their expected goals output by quite a bit. At the moment New York is benefiting from the third-highest 5-on-5 shooting percentage in the NHL at 9.8%. Furthermore, there are seven players on New York’s roster who have scored on at least 14% of their shots on goal.
The Ottawa Senators are no defensive masterpiece, either. On the season, Ottawa allows 2.37 expected goals against (25th) and 10.9 high-danger chances (22nd) per hour at 5-on-5. Despite that, the Senators are close to 50% in both expected goal share and high-danger chance share this season.
And the Sens are improving on defense. Over Ottawa’s last 10 games, it is giving up just 2.2 expected goals and 9.8 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes. The Senators aren’t sacrificing offense for defense, either. In fact, their offensive metrics have improved over the last 10 games as well.
At the listed odds, the Senators have an implied probability of 51.1%. When you adjust that for home-ice and rest — Ottawa is playing its third game in four nights — you’d get the Sens at around +120 against the Rangers on neutral ice. Considering the way the Senators are trending and that the Rangers’ number is being inflated by some good luck, I’m happy to take Ottawa as a slight favorite here.
Ottawa’s offense has proven to be a strength through the first quarter of the season and I’m banking on the Sens to have success against the NHL’s worst defense. I’d play Ottawa to -120.