NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rangers vs. Oilers (November 5)
Andy Devlin/Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McDavid
Rangers vs. Oilers Odds
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
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The New York Rangers wrap up their first Western road swing in nearly two years with a back-to-back set against two hot teams in Alberta this weekend. They’ll take on the 8-1-0 Edmonton Oilers on Friday then face the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
The Rangers claimed three of a possible four points during the first two games of the trip, in Seattle and Vancouver. But with questions about their starting goaltender — and a juggernaut on the other side — the home side is intriguing for savvy bettors on Friday night in Edmonton.
Are the Rangers Overvalued?
The Gerard Gallant era is off to a good start, with the Rangers skating to a 6-2-2 record in their first 10 games.
However, the team’s underlying numbers suggest that a good part of their success has come thanks to impressive work by goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
The 25-year-old is 5-1-2 this season. Shesterkin ranks at the top of the league in total saves and has already amassed a gaudy 9.9 Goals Saved Above Expected, according to MoneyPuck.
That high-quality netminding has helped the Rangers outperform their Expected Goals Rate of just 46.47% at 5-on-5, which is seventh-worst in the league.
While both of the Rangers’ goals came with the man advantage on Tuesday in Vancouver, their power play has been less than reliable overall. It has ranked 20th at 19.4% despite the presence of snipers like Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and Adam Fox.
The Rangers are relatively healthy. Ryan Reaves practiced with the team on Thursday for the first time after missing the last three games with a lower-body issue. It’s uncertain whether he’ll be ready to go against Edmonton.
Gallant also shuffled his forwards during Thursday’s practice, moving sophomore Alexis Lafreniere down to the fourth line from his usual spot in the top six.
Oilers’ Power Play on Fire
The Oilers are also in the middle of the pack in expected goals at 5-on-5, ranked 15th at 49.79%, but that’s OK when you’ve got a historically unprecedented power play. It has hit at least once in every game this season and is now 13-for-28 for the year, or 46.2%.
As we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lead the league in scoring as they feast with the man advantage. With seven points in his last two games, Draisaitl has passed his teammate to move into top spot. He has 20 points in nine games, while McDavid sits at 19.
Despite the early-season injury to starter Mike Smith, Mikko Koskinen has been solid since taking over the net. He has gone 5-1-0 in his six starts, saving 4.0 Goals Above Expected and limited the opposition to two goals or fewer in four of those six starts.
While the Oilers’ power play rightfully earns the lion’s share of the headlines, one indicator of the club’s increased commitment to defense is its strong penalty kill. With just three goals allowed while shorthanded, Edmonton ranks fifth in the NHL, with an 88.9% success rate.
Smith got on the ice for practice on Thursday, and coach Dave Tippett has suggested that he might try to get promising AHL call-up Stuart Skinner a game before he’s re-assigned. After hosting the Rangers on Friday, the Oilers head out for a five-game road trip that begins next Tuesday. So it isn’t a sure thing that Koskinen will get the nod against New York.
Other than Smith, the Oilers are healthy.
Oilers vs. Rangers Pick
Without much clarity on which goaltender will start at either end of the ice, the betting picture here is a bit murky. The Rangers are facing two hot opponents on a back-to-back, and while Gallant has said he’ll split the games between Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, he hasn’t showed his cards regarding which netminder he’ll tap to face Edmonton Oilers.
On the Oilers’ side, a possible start for Skinner also muddies the waters. But even if the 23-year-old makes his second-career NHL start, Edmonton’s strong offense, responsible defense and ridiculous power play should all still deliver as expected.
So, look for the Oilers to keep rolling as they finish out this homestand.
Edmonton has won its last two games by identical 5-2 scores. If you’re feeling bold, consider the home side on the puck line at +160 — implied odds of 38.46% for a team that has won five of its nine games this season by two goals or more.
More conservatively, Edmonton on the money line offers decent value.
Pick: Oilers -160; play down to -185