NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rangers vs. Maple Leafs
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
Rangers vs. Maple Leafs Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-162|
|Over/Under||6 (+100 / -122)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Toronto will host New York for a nationally-televised matchup between two of the NHL’s most storied franchises — and both happen to be legitimate cup contenders this season.
The Rangers enter in elite form, having put up a 7-2-1 record over their last 10 games. However, they’re still priced as +135 underdogs on the road.
New York Rangers
New York’s tear through the month of January has created a lot of room in the playoff race, and it appears safe to say that Gerard Gallant’s crew will be heading back to the postseason.
The Rangers have played to a 52.50 xGF% over their last 10 games, which is a significant improvement compared to the early going.
The Rangers’ defensive corps is extremely solid and has become a key strength. The unit helps cover up a forward corps with less depth than other Eastern contenders.
One of the greatest defensive keys is to try and limit pre-shot movement for Igor Shesterkin, who is far more capable than an average netminder. He excels at stopping interior shots when he can get fully set.
New York has done a strong job of that of late, and it will be an important theme for a contest in which the Leafs will likely hold more of the puck and take more attempts at the net.
Offensively, the Rangers’ second line of Jimmy Vesey, Vincent Trocheck and Barclay Goodrow is lacking compared to other contenders out East and will be skating in some tough matchups tonight.
The kid line of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko has been reunited as a result. It’s a third unit that offers significant upside, which could be key to success tonight.
Shesterkin will likely start for New York. He has played to a +15.3 GSAx rating and .918 save percentage throughout 35 appearances.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Everybody knows what this Maple Leafs corps is about more or less. Just halfway into the season, they already appear locked into a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1.
Everything from now until then is simply trying to stay healthy, fine-tuning their game and evaluating the greatest areas of need at the deadline.
Sheldon Keefe’s team does a great job of generating a lot of offensive zone time with a very possessive style and has strong attention to detail from forwards who insulate the defense with tremendous back pressure in the neutral zone.
Despite seeing spectacular numbers from each of their top four forwards, the Leafs have scored at just the ninth-best average (3.40 goals per game). A lack of depth scoring beyond their top two lines has been a concern, and shoring up that weakness would go a long way in helping the Leafs’ playoff hopes and in matchups against top sides like the Rangers.
Defensively, Toronto has been excellent and has allowed the sixth-fewest goals in the league despite clearly holding a modest goaltending tandem.
Ilya Samsonov has a handle on the No. 1 job in goal for the time being and has been in elite form recently.
Matt Murray has not started since a disastrous Jan. 17 outing against Florida. But with how starts have been split thus far, it’s quite possible Murray starts in net start here.
Murray has been solid altogether with a +4.8 GSAx. However, he’s been in somewhat shakier form over the last stretch of play after an incredible beginning to the season.
Rangers vs. Maple Leafs Pick
Backing Toronto as heavy favorites versus Shesterkin and an opportunistic Rangers team in a potential Murray start does not sound entirely appealing.
New York has been in strong form recently, and Shesterkin has been elite. Its powerplay should continue to take steps forward, and overall, it feels like the Rangers will find a way to make this a game.
Toronto will likely carry more of the overall run of play and manage a ton of attempts on net, which keeps me from wanting to get involved with New York.
With those factors in mind, there are two plays I believe hold strong merit.
The first is Shesterkin to go over his saves prop. My estimation is we will see a number of 31.5 with the over around -110, or possibly -110 at 30.5.
The second is a fun longshot backing this game to go to overtime (regulation draw) at +300.
Shesterkin and the Rangers do an excellent job of hanging around in all games and keeping them close, but I don’t see them creating distance from a strong Leafs team on the road here.
I like the chances this game is hard-fought with close scorelines throughout, which makes me see value in a regulation tie sprinkle.
Pick: Shesterkin Over 31.5 Saves (Play to -110) · Regulation Tie +300 (Smaller Stake)