Rangers vs. Capitals Odds & Preview: Where Does The Value Lie In Rivalry Game (Wednesday, Oct. 13)
Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Ovechkin.
- The Rangers and Caps open their seasons with a Metropolitan Division rivalry matchup.
- Both teams are poised to compete for a playoff spot again this season with high-powered offenses.
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the rivalry matchup and makes his betting pick below.
Rangers vs. Capitals Odds
|Over/Under||6 (-125 / +105)|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
This highly anticipated season opening affair between the Rangers and Capitals sets up perfectly for an exciting return to TNT for the NHL.
The budding rivalry between the two Metropolitan division competitors was taken to new heights after controversial Caps forward Tom Wilson left Rangers superstar Artemi Panarin injured last season.
Beyond all the extracurriculars we may see in this contest, both teams have a ton of star power and figure to be close competitors in a Metro Division likely to produce a crowded playoff picture.
Rangers Enter Pivotal Season
The sense around the Rangers organization is that it’s playoffs or bust entering this season. Although I did not love all of general manager Chris Drury’s offseason moves, the elite core pieces remain intact and the addition of head coach Gerard Gallant could be significant.
Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad were the driving forces behind the Rangers ranking 11th in goals last season, and I think we can safely assume the trio will again post lofty totals.
The question is whether the offensive support beyond those big names improves this season, especially after shipping out the team’s third-leading scorer in terms of points per game in Pavel Buchnevich. New York has made a commitment to adding grittier role players upfront.
Top draft picks Alexis Lafreniere and Kappo Kakko both offer a lot of upside and will be counted on to contribute more skating in bigger roles. The hiring of Gallant should serve as both well, and I think that the pair is likely to put together better offensive numbers this season.
The Rangers depth at center is likely their biggest area of concern. Julien Gauthier and Fillip Chytil will begin as the second and third options, and to say either is likely to be a strong second-line option would be a stretch in my eyes.
In Vegas, we saw head coach Gallant give defenders free reign to jump up in the rush, be ultra aggressive holding the offensive zone and try to break up opposition rushes early rather than back in. The Rangers’ top four of Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Keandre Miller and Jacob Trouba could show with that change, although they may offer some growing pains.
Igor Shesterkin will start for the Rangers Wednesday after a quality season last year, during which the Russian netminder stopped 3.05 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) with a .916 save percentage.
Caps’ Depth Will Be Tested Early
With top center Nicklas Backstrom set to miss at least 10 games after landing on the long-term injured reserve on Tuesday, the depth that gave the Caps the NHL’s third-highest offensive output last season will be tested. For a number of reasons, I feel the Capitals can still manage to produce offensively at a good clip in Backstrom’s absence, although his reliable two-way play at center will be hard to replace.
Alex Ovechkin is also day to day, but true to his incredibly durable form appears likely to play tomorrow night after taking the ice for the Caps’ optional skate on Tuesday morning.
Daniel Sprong was quietly deadly for the Caps last year, producing at the league’s fifth-best even strength goals per/60 rate of 1.59. He’ll be given a bigger opportunity starting on the second offensive unit.
Top prospects Hendrix Lapierre and Connor McMichael both showed well over the preseason and cracked a deep NHL roster, albeit in part due to Backstrom’s absence. Should Ovechkin suit up, Hendrix Lapierre appears to be the frontrunner to claim the lone vacant spot after posting five points in four preseason contests.
Evgeny Kuznetsov is set to start as the top-line center, as well as taking over Backstrom’s vacated half-wall spot on the Capitals deadly power-play unit. I see Kuznetsov very much as a good bounce-back candidate, as the enigmatic Russian still holds elite offensive capabilities and seems much more engaged than last season.
The Capitals created a ton of chances from the back end last year while certainly allowing more than their share against. With John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Nick Jensen and Justin Schultz all set to return, I think we can safely expect more of the same.
There will be one very notable change on the back end for the Caps, as Martin Fehervary appears to have not just cracked the opening night lineup but will likely skate alongside John Carlson on the team’s top unit.
Ilya Samsonov will likely get the start between the pipes, where he’ll look to bounce back from an up-and-down season. Samsonov posted a very poor .899 save percentage, albeit only allowing -0.5 GSAx.
Both clubs finished in the top third of the league production wise last season, and I think that we will likely see offensive progress altogether from the Rangers under Gallant, who will employ a more aggressive style. New York’s young offensive talent should also show more development.
The Capitals are likely to continue producing at a high rate both at 5-on-5 and on the power play this season, and I believe that this defense core is still likely to give up lots of high-quality chances against.
Under early season officiating standards, and in what will likely be a very heated and chippy affair, we should also see a higher than average number of power plays.
Altogether, I like our chances of seeing a high-scoring affair on Wednesday night, and I see value with the over 6, as well as a smaller play on the 3-Way Regulation draw at +340.
Pick: Over 6 (-120, play to -125)