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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blue Jackets vs. Rangers Pick (October 23)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blue Jackets vs. Rangers Pick (October 23) article feature image
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Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Artemi Panarin (right).

Blue Jackets vs. Rangers Odds

Blue Jackets Odds +230
Rangers Jackets -300
Over/Under 6.5 (-120/+100)
Time 5 p.m. ET
TV MSG
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The New York Rangers continue a four-game homestand on Sunday, when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden.

Both teams will be looking to get back into the win column. The Blue Jackets fell by a 6-3 score to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday while the Rangers dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the San Jose Sharks last Thursday.

Here’s a look at the latest on both teams, and your best bet for the game.

Reasons For Concern For the Blue Jackets on Sunday

The Blue Jackets are in a tough back-to-back situation. They saw their modest two-game win streak snapped at home on Saturday against Pittsburgh. Columbus is now sitting at 2-4-0 for the year, tied for last place in the difficult Metropolitan Division, with a minus-9 goal differential that’s the worst in the Eastern Conference.

After jumping out to a 2-0 first-period lead against the Penguins, Columbus was outshot 32-15 in the final two periods and outscored 6-1. That much defending is exhausting, which could make for tough sledding against the Rangers.

All told, Columbus ranks 25th in controlling expected goals at 5-on-5, at 45.57%. And while they’re solid on the penalty kill, with an 88.9% success rate, the Blue Jackets are the only team in the NHL that has not yet scored a power-play goal this year.

Jack Roslovic did score his club’s first shorthanded goal of the year on Saturday night, while rookie Kent Johnson tallied the first NHL goal of his career. And Johnny Gaudreau has lived up to his billing so far: he leads the Blue Jackets with seven points in six games and is currently riding a five-game point streak.

On the injury front, Patrik Laine remains sidelined with a sprained elbow. Forward Justin Danforth left Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury and is questionable against the Rangers. If he can’t play, it’s possible that Liam Foudy will draw in for his first game action of the year.

After starting the last four games, Elvis Merzlikins should get a day off on Sunday. Look for Daniil Tarasov to get the nod for his first start since Oct. 14. He’s 0-2-0 this season, and while his .890 save percentage and 4.50 goals-against average leave a lot to be desired, his -1.5 goals saved above expected suggests that he hasn’t played badly, within his game circumstances.

As Panarin Goes, So Go the Rangers

With a 3-1-1 record so far this season, the Rangers are well on their way to proving that their success last season was no fluke. And on Sunday, they’ll be looking to erase the memory of a poor end to their last outing, where they went into the third period tied 2-2 with the then-winless San Jose Sharks. The Blueshirts were outshot 18-2 in the final 20:49 of the game, which ended when Erik Karlsson beat Igor Shesterkin less than a minute into 3-on-3 overtime.

Offensively, the Rangers have been inconsistent in the early going. In their first five games, they’ve scored three, seven, one, six and two goals — so they could be due for another big day. That trend follows the output of Artemi Panarin, who is tied for the NHL lead with 11 points. He has at least a point in all five of his team’s games this season, including a pair of four-point outings. If the pattern holds, Sunday could be a good one for him.

At 25%, the Rangers’ power play has been decent. And while their penalty kill rate of 76.5% is not great, New York’s 5-on-5 play has been pretty solid, controlling 55.08% of expected goals.

With a nicely spaced-out schedule for his team so far, expect to see Shesterkin back between the pipes for his fifth start of the year. By his standards, his play so far has been just-okay — particularly in the last two games, where he has given up a total of seven goals. He comes into Sunday’s game with a 2.75 goals-against average, .901 save percentage and just one goal saved above expected. But he’s doing what’s necessary to earn points for his team, with a 3-0-1 record for the year.

Blue Jackets vs. Rangers Pick

The Rangers are heavily favored for this game, and for good reason. They’re a superior squad that’s healthy, with a significant schedule advantage, playing on home ice. We’ll have to look deeper than the moneyline to find some betting value.

It’ll be tough for the Blue Jackets to overcome all the circumstances working against them. But Shesterkin’s uncharacteristically shaky numbers over the last two games and a start for the Columbus backup could make for a high-scoring contest.

If you can get the Rangers on the puck line at -110 or better, grab it. Otherwise, consider the Over at -120, or points props for Panarin or Gaudreau.

Pick: New York Rangers -1.5 (+105); play down to -110

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