NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rangers vs. Blue Jackets (October 29)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rangers vs. Blue Jackets (October 29) article feature image

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images. Pictured: Artemi Panarin

Rangers vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Rangers Odds-1.5
Blue Jackets Odds+1.5
Time7:08 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Rangers will look to bounce back in front of a lively Friday night crowd at MSG after a disappointing 5-1 defeat Monday at the hands of the Calgary Flames. The upstart Blue Jackets enter coming off a solid 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars, running their record to 4-2-0.

Their reward for the surprising start – sixth place in the Metropolitan Division, which is shaping up to be every bit as deep as anticipated during the offseason. What can we expect to see from this crucial divisional affair, and who might claim the crucial two points?

Columbus Blue Jackets

Is it truly realistic for Columbus to claim a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference?

Probably not, but don't tell coach Brad Larsen's group that. It would truly be something special for this group to manage a postseason berth given the depth of the division and conference.

Certainly this roster will not regularly drive more of the play, but the team has had the right recipe to help makeup for that in the early going, doing a good job of limiting high quality looks in front of stellar netminder Elvis Merzlikins and putting together a solid mark on the powerplay.

After quality preseason showings and chemistry shining early in training camp, the Blue Jackets' new look powerplay has clicked in the early going to the tune of a 26.3% success rate. Employing two lethal shooters in Oliver Bjorkstrand and Patrik Laine, as well as a great quarterback in Zach Werenski, I feel that this area of growth compared to last season is very maintainable.

Columbus have failed to generate a ton during 5-on-5 play however, creating just 2.08 xGF/60 per game so far.

Elvis Merzlikins is likely to start as he looks to continue his magnificent start. Melzlikins has stopped .952 % of shots on goal and 6.3 goals saved above expected.

New York Rangers

The Rangers have ridden a combination of spectacular goaltending and timely scoring to a 4-2-1 start in the early going of the season. The Rangers hold a true goal differential of -5 however, and have scored only 16 times throughout the six contests excluding empty net goals, while generating just 2.22 xGF/60

The biggest concern continues to be the lack of offensive contribution in behind the all-world talents in Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, and Mika Zibanejad for the Rangers.

After the losses of Pavel Buchnevich and Colin Blackwell up front, the stage has been set for top picks Alexis Lafreniere, Kappo Kakko, and Fillip Chytil to start to put forth bigger offensive numbers at the NHL level. However, they have not yet received a lot from the trio so far.

On the injury front, Kappo Kakko is set to return to the lineup after being activated Thursday.

Coach Gerard Gallant should likely stick with Ilya Shesterkin here given his remarkable form and the fact that Alexandr Georgiev has already garnered two starts. The team will owe a better effort to their young netminder after being dominated Monday against Calgary.

Shesterkin has posted a .933 Save % and stopped 4.1 Goals Saved Above Expected through five contests so far this season.

Blue Jackets vs Rangers Pick

Elvis Merzlikins (+4400 at Fanduel) and Ilya Shesterkin (+1500) are set to square off here in a battle of two of my three favorite current Vezina bets (alongside Ilya Sorokin at +2900) in what should be a very hard fought Metropolitan Division battle.

Both teams are in the bottom quarter with regards to xGF/60, and I certainly expect Columbus to trend towards playing some of the lowest-event hockey in the league as the sample size grows bigger this season.

The Rangers have received very little depth scoring in the early going of this season, and I am willing to chance that continues should Elvis Merzlikins get the start here.

I can also live with the chances that New York hold Columbus to a lower total, however I am weary on them as a heavy favorite here.

Altogether, I see the most value in backing the under at 5.5 (-105) and feel it's less likely this one breaks open too much.

Pick: Under 5.5 (-105, play to -120)

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