NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Rangers vs. Golden Knights (Jan. 6)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Rangers vs. Golden Knights (Jan. 6) article feature image

Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Gerard Gallant

  • The Golden Knights are home favorites on Thursday against the Rangers.
  • Will Vegas be able to handle a hot New York team that has won three straight?
  • Jonny Lazarus breaks down the game and shares his best bet below.

Rangers vs. Golden Knights Odds

Rangers Odds+135
Golden Knights Odds-155
Time10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

There are plenty of reasons to circle Rangers vs. Golden Knights on Thursday night. First of all, these are two of the best teams in the NHL at the moment and both teams play an up-tempo style of hockey that's easy on the eye. But, perhaps more importantly, this is Gerard Gallant's first game back in Vegas since he was fired by the Knights on Jan. 15, 2020.

Gallant's Rangers have won three in a row, including two over the Lightning, and have scored 11 goals (not including goal awarded for the shootout) in that span. New York is currently tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Knights have not had a happy new year just yet, losing back-to-back games by one goal apiece.

Are the Rangers Elite?

The New York Rangers continue to be one of the the NHL's biggest overachievers. It's not like the Blueshirts were supposed to be bad, but very few folks had them penciled in as one of the best teams in the league before the season.

And even when the Rangers look like they could stumble, they find a way to get results. New York will be without Artemi Panarin for the third game in a row, but his absence hasn't slowed the team down one bit. Alexis Lafreniere has slotted into Panarin's spot next to Ryan Strome quite nicely, while the power play continues to hum, going 4-for-12 over the last three games. The Rangers have the seventh-best power play and fourth-best penalty kill in the NHL this season.

And it's important for New York to continue to clip at a strong rate on special teams as the Rangers' 5-on-5 numbers leave a lot to be desired. New York ranks 25th in the NHL in high-danger chance rate and 30th in expected goals rate, according to Natural Stat Trick.

A leaky defense at 5-on-5 has not been a huge issue thanks in large part to the play of Igor Shesterkin in goal. Firmly in the Vezina conversation, Shesterkin has posted a .936 save percentage and a +17.4 Goals Saved Above Expected in 21 games this season. With Shesterkin in the blue paint, the Rangers have a shot at beating any opponent on any given night.

The Streaky Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights have been quite streaky this season, but that doesn't change the expectations for this team. Vegas is currently the fourth-favorite for the Stanley Cup behind only Colorado, Toronto and Tampa Bay.

Sitting atop the Pacific Division at 22-13-1, it's hard not to be impressed with how Vegas has been able to battle through the first half of the season despite injuries to plenty of key pieces like Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Robin Lehner and more.

Very few teams (if any) play a more high-event style of hockey compared to the Knights. Vegas ranks inside the top-6 in goals, expected goals for and high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5, but the Knights do give up plenty of scoring chances of their own.

The Knights may be without No. 1 goalie Robin Lehner once again and instead may need to turn to Laurent Brossoit or rookie Logan Thompson. Lehner has been strong with a +3.3 GSAx in 24 games, but Brossoit has been admirable as his deputy, skating to a +1.0 GSAx behind a high-risk defense.

Rangers vs. Golden Knights Pick

Even if Lehner starts, the Rangers almost always have an edge in goal with Shesterkin, who should be able to keep the Blueshirts in the game against a team that is generating 12.26 high-danger chances and 34.4 shots on goal per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 this season.

While the Rangers may have some regression coming at some point, it's hard looking away from this team at a good price on Thursday, especially since Vegas could be without some key players.

Pick: New York Rangers +135 or better

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