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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Capitals vs. Rangers (Feb. 24)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Capitals vs. Rangers (Feb. 24) article feature image

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Artemi Panarin

  • The Rangers host the Capitals as slight favorites on Thursday night.
  • The Rangers are looking to bounce back from a 5-1 loss to the Capitals on opening night.
  • NHL betting analyst Nick Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Capitals vs. Rangers Odds

Capitals Odds+105
Rangers Odds-125
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

After a controversial incident involving Tom Wilson left Artemi Panarin injured late last season, this rivalry has picked up some serious steam. We will finally be treated this season’s second battle after the Capitals thumped the Rangers 5-1 on opening night.

That contest would surely make the list of the season’s worst performances for the Rangers in what has been a very successful start to the campaign. New York will look to show how far they have come on Thursday.

Rangers Looking for Scoring Regression

The Rangers have come out of their 14-day break very steadily, producing a 2-0-1 record and have continued to control more of the run of play than we have often seen this season.

Over the Rangers’ last seven games, they have played to a strong 54.34 Expected Goals For rate and have seen a notable uptick in chances created. They have generated the league’s ninth-highest Expected Goals For per/60 over that time at 3.12.

The puck hasn’t exactly been going in with ease over the Rangers’ last three contests. However, Boston is a far above average club defensively, while Detroit and Ottawa certainly appeared to have some favorable puck-luck. The Rangers scored 4.31 Goals Below Expected over the three games.

The trio of Panarin, Adam Fox, and Mika Zibanejad are all very capable of producing the sort of offensive plays which greatly bend Expected Goals data. Those types of plays have surely been part of Chris Kreider’s career year, where he has shot 20.8% overall, especially on the power play.

With New York being a team I expect to outscore this data – as they have done so far this season – I would not expect the lower offensive totals to continue, especially now that the team is actually generating above average amounts of  chances for.

Igor Shesterkin should get the start for this massive showdown. He has been brilliant this season in stopping +28.5 Goals Saved Above Expected with a .939 Save % in 32 games played.

Capitals Need Defensive Improvement

The Capitals will enter this one in the midst of another shaky run of play. They hold a 4-3-0 record in the month of February, but have dealt with suspect defensive play and average goaltending.

Those concerns have been hidden to an extent due to the level of competition faced and the team’s continued offensive prominence. However, an 11th-worst Expected Goals Against rating in February at 3.11 is concerning, particularly when watching the nature of the breakdowns at times.

Washington’s offensive play has remained steady, as the Capitals have averaged 3.71 goals for per game altogether. They could receive a notable boost in that regard should T.J. Oshie make a return to the lineup here.

Ilya Samsonov will likely get the start here and has been far from dominant, owning a -2.9 Goals Saved Above Expected rating with a .906 Save %. He has surely seen those marks impacted with his team’s play in front of goal.

Capitals vs. Rangers Pick

The Capitals have been trying to clean up their defensive game for weeks, and they just can’t seem to be able to do so. It’s hard for me to see them improving  here against what will surely be a Rangers team playing with a ton of energy.

Washington has struggled badly on the penalty kill of late as well, which could be a big concern here as the Rangers hold the league’s third-ranked power play – which looked deadly last time out against Ottawa.

Behind all of that, Samsonov has been just about average to below average in goal, so it’s not likely he helps hide any sort of suspect defensive play.

However, this Washington core has historically been strong at creating chances which allow goalies very little chance, forcing lots of east-west movement across the crease. This consistently has produced above expected goals metrics with that strength. Even against Shesterkin here, I can imagine they produce a reasonable total.

Just this month, the Capitals have generated four goals off of the Penguins and Tristan Jarry, as well as four from Juuse Saros and the Predators.

Pick: Over 6 +105 (Play 6 to -120)

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