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Rangers vs. Ducks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Regression Looms in Anaheim (Jan. 8)

Rangers vs. Ducks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Regression Looms in Anaheim (Jan. 8) article feature image
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Zak Krill/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mika Zibanejad

  • New York and Anaheim meet on Saturday night for a battle of second-place teams.
  • Both the Rangers and Ducks have exceeded preseason expectation so far and the oddsmakers have this game close to a pick'em.
  • Michael Leboff breaks down the game and gives his top pick, below.

Rangers vs. Ducks Odds

Rangers Odds -115
Ducks Odds -105
Over/Under 5.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Two teams that have defied their preseason expectations will meet at Honda Center on Saturday night when the Anaheim Ducks host the New York Rangers. Both teams come into the contest sitting second in their respective divisions, but it’s fair to be skeptical that either team will be able to keep up the pace over the second half of the NHL season.

Oh, and by the way, this is the Rangers’ first game since New York Sports Betting was fully legalized, so don’t be surprised if we get some higher-than-usual action on Saturday night.

The Rangers Should Come Down to Earth

A few weeks ago, I asked So Money Sports — my co-host on Line Change! (the Action Network’s NHL betting podcast) — to pick out one team that he thought could

On the surface, everything looks hunky-dory for the Rangers. They are comfortably in a playoff spot, have the sixth-best points percentage in the NHL and are averaging +0.32 more goals than they are giving up per game.

However if you look under the surface, there are reasons to pump the brakes. The Rangers are allowing the sixth-fewest goals per game in the NHL (2.54), but that number does seem unsustainable when you take a look at the amount of quality chances the team gives up. New York is allowing 2.57 expected goals and 11.66 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, which puts them in the bottom-10 in both categories.

Giving up that many scoring chances wouldn’t be all that bad if the Rangers were generating chances the other way, but the truth is that this team doesn’t really create quality chances, either. The Blueshirts generate the fifth-fewest expected goals at 5-on-5 and are middle of the pack in high-danger chances created, which is why they’re sitting 30th in the NHL with a 45.75% expected goals rate and 22nd with a 47.7% high-danger chance rate.

Not all teams need to drive play at 5-on-5 to have success, though, and the Rangers have been one of those squads this season thanks to terrific production from their star players, strong special teams and — most importantly — incredible goaltending from Igor Shesterkin.

Per MoneyPuck, Shesterkin currently ranks second in the NHL with a +17.4 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) in 21 games played. At this point he looks a surefire pick to be nominated for the Vezina Trophy and is an outside candidate for the Hart Trophy. However, Shesterkin is currently in the NHL’s COVID protocols and the drop-off between him and his deputy, Alex Georgiev, is massive.

While Georgiev did have some flashes when he spelled Shesterkin earlier in the season, the 25-year-old native of Bulgaria has struggled to a -5.7 GSAx in 15 games this season.

Will the Ducks Run Out of Steam?

It needs to be said, right off the jump, that Anaheim’s terrific start to this season was well-earned and the team’s underlying metrics don’t suggest that the Ducks — who entered the season with a 71.5-point Over/Under — fluked their way to an 18-11-7 start.

Through their first 25 games, the Ducks basically broke even in terms of 5-on-5 goals and were just above 50% by xG. Those aren’t world-beating numbers, but for a team that was expected to finish in the bottom-five of the entire league, they were quite encouraging and suggested that the Ducks weren’t a tale of good fortune.

Anaheim’s numbers have dipped a bit since the start of December, but a 47.95% expected goals rate over 13 games isn’t alarming when you consider where this team was supposed to be this season and the fact that their lineup has been depleted a bit due to COVID.

Like the Rangers, the Ducks rely pretty heavily on their No. 1 goaltender to keep them afloat. Although John Gibson’s +3.7 GSAx is nowhere near what Shesterkin has delivered, the Pittsburgh native is second in the NHL in games played (27) and you can count on him to keep the Ducks in games when he plays.

However, Gibson is also in COVID protocols and won’t be available on Saturday night. His deputy, Anthony Stolarz, has been terrific for Anaheim with a +3.3 GSAx in 10 games.

Ducks vs. Rangers Pick

At first glance the -115 on New York may seem pretty cheap, especially with Anaheim missing Gibson and Hampus Lindholm in COVID protocols. However, the Rangers will be without Shesterkin and it can’t be overstated how important he’s been to a team with a vulnerable defense.

Very few goaltenders in the NHL can steal a game quite like Shesterkin and with the defense the Rangers have in front of him, it’s become a part of their identity. Like I said above, any team that goes far in the NHL needs strong goaltending, but when it becomes a crutch that is when bettors can find value going against a team that is overly-dependent on elite goalie-play.

Perhaps the Ducks aren’t the team to take advantage of Shesterkin’s absence, but they do rank 12th overall in high-danger chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, so it’s not like this team is all that easy to contain.

Considering the goaltending matchup and New York’s defensive flaws, it’s hard to justify making the Rangers a road favorite, although I wouldn’t be surprised if this number does move towards the Blueshirts because of the public perception of where these two teams stand right now.

If you’re a Rangers fan and want to get down on your team to celebrate sports betting in New York, who am I to judge. The numbers suggest this team is due for some serious regression, but gambling is supposed to be fun and it’s not like you’re laying something huge here.

However, at plus-money I think the Ducks are good value and, even at the listed odds, I think it’s Anaheim or nothing on Saturday night.

Pick: Ducks ML (-105 or better)

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