New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers Odds, Picks and Best Bets: Keep Fading the Flyers (Thursday, March 25)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images.
Rangers vs. Flyers Odds
|Time||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM.|
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers both entered the season with raised expectations after finishing last season strong. On Thursday, they’ll meet up with both teams at a critical point in the season.
The Flyers got off to a tremendous start, but have just two regulation wins in their last 13 games. On the other side, the Rangers have gotten points in five of their last six games as they try and work their way back into the picture in the East Division. Can we expect these trends to continue in this game?
New York Rangers
While the Rangers haven’t met preseason expectations, they certainly have a laundry list of excuses if they need them.
Through the first half of the season, New York has dealt with issues that would slow down any team. Tony DeAngelo was one of the league’s top offensive defensemen last season, but the Rangers basically kicked him off the team. Artemi Panarin was the victim of a hit piece in Russia and needed to take a leave of absence to deal with protecting his family. Mika Zibanejad had an inconceivable slump to begin the season. Star young goalie Igor Shesterkin got injured. Their whole coaching staff had to quarantine due to COVID.
Most of these issues are now behind the Rangers and it’s no surprise to see them winning games at a more regular clip. Despite being just one game over .500, the Rangers have a +14 goal differential on the season. Winning a game 9-0 helps that, but it shows New York has lost a lot of one-goal games as well. They rank above average in expected goal rate as well as high danger chance percentage.
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.
Offensively, the team is led by Panarin who has 28 points in 20 games on the season. Zibanejad has 11 points in his last 6 games as he recovers from his first-half cold streak. Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider are all chipping in offensively as well.
Igor Shesterkin will make his first start in three weeks on Thursday as he returns from a groin injury. Shesterkin’s return should give the Rangers a boost as the highly talented goalie has a +3.9 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) while stopping over 92% of the shots he’s faced.
The last time the Philadelphia Flyers saw the New York Rangers, the Blueshirts beat them by a score of 9-0. Since then, Philadelphia has lost three of four games. In their lone win during that time frame, they blew a 3-0 lead in the third period.
The Flyers rank in the bottom third of the league in most analytical categories including expected goal rate, high danger chance percentage, scoring chance share and expected goals scored per hour.
Through the first part of the season, the Flyers were able to overcome their subpar analytical profile due to an abnormally high shooting percentage. As their shooting percentage has fallen, the wins have dried up. Philadelphia still has the second best shooting percentage in the league at 5-on-5 so there could still be more regression to come.
Philadelphia outperforming their metrics isn’t surprising because there’s a lot of talent in their forward group. Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, Joel Farabee, James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes give coach Alain Vigneault plenty of options to send over the boards at any time.
Despite their ability to score goals, the big issue for Philadelphia has been keeping the puck out of their net. They are about average in terms of expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5, but their goaltenders have been brutal. Carter Hart grades out as the worst goalie in the league with a GSAx of -22.1. His back-up, Brain Elliott, has been better but still posts a poor -5.5 GSAx.
Rangers vs. Flyers Best Bet
When you have a team like the Flyers who are in a free-fall, you have two ways of betting their games. You can attempt to time when the streak ends, or you can fade them until the money stops being green.
It’s hard to process seeing a team as talented as Philadelphia struggling this badly for an extended period of time, but there are valid reasons for their struggles. They don’t do well in terms of driving play and playing in the offensive zone. Additionally, their goaltending has been downright awful.
The Rangers are beginning to show why so many people had them as a potential playoff contender prior to the season beginning. They’ve dealt with a lot of shenanigans through the first half of the year, but it appears things have calmed down and they’ve been able to settle in and play better hockey.
The return of Shesterkin should only help their cause. Shesterkin has now played 27 NHL games and is stopping nearly 93% of the shots he’s faced. The Rangers will have the advantage in goal in this contest.
With the Flyers in the form that they’re in, I can’t back them in this spot. I’ll take the Rangers who have been playing much better over the past few weeks.
Pick: New York Rangers -105 (up to -110)