NHL Odds, Preview, Expert Prediction: Canadiens vs. Rangers (January 15)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. PIctured: New York Rangers celebrate a goal
- The Rangers host the Canadiens in one of three games on the NHL's Sunday slate.
- New York has won back-to-back games and will have a rest advantage over a Montreal team playing the second leg of a back-to-back.
- Nicholas Martin previews the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Canadiens vs. Rangers Odds
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New York's three-game homestand wraps up Sunday night as the Rangers host the Montreal Canadiens, who will be skating the second leg of a back-to-back.
New York has an opportunity to sweep its homestand after a pair of comeback wins over high quality competition, including a stunning 2-1 overtime win over Dallas that was set up by a K'Andre Miller game-tying goal in the game's final second.
On a night when Canadiens legend P.K. Subban was honored, the Canadiens played their best contest in weeks and came through with a convincing 4-3 win over Nashville.
Expecting similar results moving forward does not make much sense however, as the Canadiens have been getting beat badly across all strengths over a large sample size and do not seem to have the horses to control play at an acceptable clip.
Over the past month, the Canadiens own a 37.18 xGF%, and that mark certainly runs in line with the "eye test".
Opposing sides have seemingly had an easier time generating high quality looks against the Canadiens as the season has run along, and Montreal's netminding tandem is regressing after unsustainably strong play early on.
Montreal has allowed three or more goals in nine straight games and has an alarming goals against average of 5.00 over that span.
Montreal is skating a number of forwards who do very little to help support a notably poor defensive core.
Even with the top trio of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Kirby Dach on the ice, Montreal only owns a breakeven share of the overall play by expected goals (49.7%), which is insane to think about considering that line looks much better than the rest of the team.
Jake Allen should start Sunday after resting in Montreal's matchup versus the Islanders.
Allen has regressed heavily from his elite form early this season, and now owns a +0.4 GSAx rating and a .892 save % through 27 games.
New York Rangers
Since a somewhat embarrassing 4-0 loss to Washington in its first game out of the holiday break, New York has kicked it back into gear and is again looking the part of a legitimate cup contender.
The Rangers are 5-0-1 since that loss, with wins coming over tough sides such as the Hurricanes, Stars, Wild and a desperate Florida side.
In those games, New York owns a 51.31% expected goals rating across all strengths, a very strong mark when you take into account the competition faced.
The Rangers core has proven capable of making a modest amount of its overall scoring chances go a very long way, which makes the fact that New York is actually generating more of the overall chances recently a dangerous note for the rest of the league.
This is likely a spot for New York to start backup Jaroslav Halak.
Halak has stabilized after a poor start and owns a -0.7 GSAx rating. In my opinion, he still projects to be an above-average backup option the rest of the way.
Canadiens vs. Rangers Pick
Regardless of how Montreal looks in Saturday night's contest versus the Islanders, my thoughts on this game will remain the same. I believe the sharp side in this contest will be backing the Rangers in a potential rout.
The Rangers play has been progressing in a number of areas and the positive energy surrounding this team is beginning to feel more and more like we saw last year.
Many of the Rangers recent wins have been an absolute grind. Sunday offers an opportunity to keep the momentum moving in the right direction and collect two points without much of a sweat.
Considering how badly Montreal has been outplayed in the vast majority of it's matchups over the lpast month, it is unlikely we see the Canadiens able to hang with New York in this matchup.
This will likely be a spot to rest Igor Shesterkin, but I couldn't care less. A -110 price for the Rangers to win this game by two or more is a bet I will happily make. I'd play New York on the puck-line down to -125.
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