Devils vs. Rangers NHL Odds & Picks: New Jersey Is a Live Underdog on Tuesday (Jan. 19)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Yegor Sharangovich, Kyle Palmieri
- The Devils enter their matchup with the Rangers an early surprise in the NHL after a pair of solid performances vs. Boston.
- The Rangers were both ends of the spectrum in their games against the Islanders, getting shut out and shutting out their in-state rivals.
- Michael Leboff explains why there's value on the Devils entering Tuesday night.
Devils vs. Rangers Odds
|Devils Odds||+128 [BET NOW]|
|Rangers Odds||-148 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||6 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
The New Jersey Devils are off to a pleasantly surprising start in 2021, taking three points from two games against the East Division favorite Boston Bruins. The Devils are underdogs once again on Tuesday, this time against the New York Rangers, who played to a bizarre split in their two-game series against the Islanders.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils came into the season as the biggest longshot in the East with 25/1 odds to win the division. Two games shouldn’t change your perception of a team, but it’s hard not to be impressed with how New Jersey played against Boston, the favorites in the East, in its opening series.
The most impressive aspect of the Devils’ 1-0-1 start is how well they defended. New Jersey didn’t allow a goal at even strength, held Boston to just 15 high-danger chances across the two games and allowed just 2.24 expected goals per 60 minutes in the series.
New Jersey’s offensive metrics still lagged, but the Bruins are one of the NHL’s elite defensive teams so that shouldn’t be that surprising. Even with the pedestrian offensive effort, the Devils looked like a much better unit than the one we saw in 2019/20 when they were near the bottom of the NHL on both offense and defense.
|Stat (5-on-5)||Regular Season (69 games)||Rank|
|Goals per 60||2.21||25th|
|Goals Against per 60||2.88||28th|
|Expected Goals per 60||2.27||25th|
|Expected Goals Against per 60||2.61||28th|
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.
Another encouraging sign for the Devils is that their goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood, was terrific against the Bruins. Goaltending can keep a team that lacks talent and/or depth in the mix, so Blackwood will need to play at a very high level for New Jersey to have a chance at surprising people. So far, so good as Blackwood posted a +2.7 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) through his first two contests.
The Rangers present a very different problem compared to the Bruins. Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, relying on its structure to grind you down and win low-event games. New York, on the other hand, feels most comfortable trading chances with its opponent and betting that its star players will create enough offense to provide cover for their pedestrian defense.
That should mean that offensive opportunities will be easier to come by for the Devils and that’s a good thing since they’ll once again be without Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier. That means that Jack Hughes, Kyle Palmieri, Nikita Gusev and new cult hero Yegor Sharangovich will need to provide the goods against a leaky defense.
New York Rangers
We saw the worst and best of the Rangers in their two-game set with the Islanders. The Blueshirts were blown out, 4-0, in the first game as their much-maligned defense was in shambles from the jump. New York responded well in the second game, jumping on the Isles from the opening whistle and winning 5-0. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Rangers didn’t allow a single high-danger scoring chance in their victory on Saturday night.
I wouldn’t expect New York to be that sturdy again on Tuesday night as only one team, Chicago, allowed more xG per 60 minutes than the Rangers did in 2019/20. New York has the star power and goaltending to survive some defensive lapses, but the Rangers will need some consistency in their own zone if they want to take a step forward this season.
That said, I don’t think their defense corps has enough talent to move the needle. Adam Fox looks like he’s on his way to becoming one of the better puck-moving defensemen in the NHL, but he doesn’t have much help behind him. Jacob Trouba is coming off a down season, K’Andre Miller is a rookie, Jack Johnson is one of the worst defensemen in the NHL and it took Tony DeAngelo one game to get benched by Dave Quinn.
No lead is safe with the Rangers, but no lead is safe from them, either. The Rangers have an embarrassment of riches up front with Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Alexis Lafreniere, Kappo Kakko, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan Strome. The Rangers finished inside the top-10 in 5-on-5 goals and expected goals in 2019/20 and I’d expect them to be right there again this season.
The Rangers’ high-wire act makes them a tough team to lay juice with. You just never know if New York will get lit up. Even an offensively-challenged team like the Devils could have success against a defense this porous.
The current odds imply that the Devils win this game 43.9% of the time and I think that number is pretty close to being in range for a bet on New Jersey, even without Hischier and Bratt.
The Rangers could very well come out and blow the doors off New Jersey, but they are a high-variance team and that makes them worth taking on if the odds are right.
Even though I think +128 is a little bit shy of the number I’d need to bet on the Devs, I do think there’s a good chance that the Rangers will get some betting support as the day goes on and that could push New Jersey’s number high enough for a play. I’d back New Jersey at +135 or better as long as Blackwood is confirmed as the starter.
The Bet: Devils +135 or better