Montreal Canadiens @ New York Rangers – Madison Square Garden at 00:00
My latest NHL Handicap Betting preview is an Original Six clash between NY Rangers and Montreal. Both sides are in good positions for a playoff birth come April and will hope to solidify their status with two points on offer.
Wins on the board for Montreal
Following Claude Julien replacing Michel Therrien as head coach, Montreal have picked up the pace once again. Since Julien’s arrival, the Habs have won 5 of their last 7 games to extend their lead in the Atlantic to 6 points. On the other hand Ottawa, who sit directly behind them in the division have 3 games in hand. The Canadiens last game – a 2-1 win over Nashville was an emotional one at the Bell Centre. Preds defenceman P.K Subban played his first game in Quebec since his highly-publicised trade away from the franchise. The mercurial Canadian had a successful and productive seven years in Montreal. The pinnacle was the 2012-13 shortened lockout campaign that saw him pick up the James Norris trophy for his dazzling displays on the blue line.
Captain Max Pacioretty has already bettered his 30 goals from last season with 31. He also heads up the Habs’ point-scoring charts with 56 in 65 games. Nonetheless alternate captain Tomas Plekanec has had trouble offensively this season. The Czech captain only has 24 points from 64 games. The 34-year old is on course for his worst point production in a full campaign since 2008-09 when he tallied 39 in 80 games.
Rangers in the mix
The New York Rangers have had another strong regular season under the guidance of Alain Vigneault. Despite another consistent year in the blue half of New York – the Rangers are in fourth position in the Metropolitan. Such is the dominance of the division is that the Blueshirts are sixth overall in the league! The Rangers played three divisional rivals last week, They defeated New Jersey (as expected) but suffered back-to-back defeats to Columbus and Washington respectively. This ultimately meant that the Rangers failed to close the gap on the two teams.
J.T Miller has been the revelation for the Rangers this season. The two-way forward surprisingly leads in points (48). He has already recorded his best offensive campaign – with 18 games still to go. At 23 years of age, Miller can continue to see his offensive production enhance gradually in the forthcoming years.
At the other end of the ice, as mentioned in previous previews, Henrik Lundqvist has struggled for consistency. King Henrik has been one of the best goaltenders in the league for the past decade and his decline in form has been well publicised by the media. In spite of his woes, the Swede nullified the Bruins in his last match and only conceded 1 goal in a 2-1 win. A good birthday present.
These two storied franchises have played twice this season, with Montreal being the victors on both occasions. Both of these results were decided by one goal and I foresee another close encounter here. Despite Montreal being the team in better form recently, the value on New York to win in regulation at 2.35 is just too good to refuse.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: New York Rangers -0.5 at 2.35 (excluding OT)
Prices correct at time of writing
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