The Ottawa Senators will try a take the early edge in their first round Stanley Cup Playoff matchup against the top-seeded New York Rangers this Thursday night in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series.

The puck is set to drop at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. (ET) and this matchup will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network.

The NHL lines had opened with the Rangers listed at -181, but early NHL betting action has shifted it to -175. Is this light action on the Rangers to make us nervous while adding them to pur NHL picks? It could be a close one, but I think that it is a risk worth taking.

New York RangersOttawa remained within striking distance of the Boston Bruins for the Northeast Division title for much of the season but could only manage seven victories over its last 17 games to fall to eighth in the East with 92 points. The Senators finished the regular season 41-31-10 and actually had a better road record (21-14-6) than they did at home (20-17-4) which bodes well for this game. When it came to wagering on Ottawa, it remained profitable all year long with a +1129 return on the money line and a 47-35 record against the puck line.

If the Senators are to have any chance to jump out to an early lead in this series, it will most likely be behind center Jason Spezza and left winger Milan Michalek, who combined for 69 goals and 75 assists this season. They are the main reason that Ottawa was ranked fourth in the NHL in scoring with a goals-per-game average of 2.96. On the other side of the ice it will be up to Craig Anderson to come up big between the pipes. He had a goals-against-average of 2.84 and a .914 save percentage in 60 starts this season.

New York comes into the postseason as the top team in the Eastern Conference after holding off the Pittsburgh Penguins down the stretch. The Rangers went 6-4 in their last 10 games and lost their final two, but finished with 109 points and had an overall record of 51-24-7. They were tough to beat on the road at 24-15-5 and went 27-12-2 at home this season. New York also had a positive return on the money line at +676 but was under .500 against the puck line at 38-44.

Right winger Marian Gaborik led the Rangers with 41 goals and 35 assists, but the real strength of this team remains its defense. New York finished the season ranked third in the NHL in goals allowed with a GAA average of just 2.22 and it was fifth against the power play with a kill rate of 86.2 percent. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was one of the best in the league all season long with a GAA of 1.97 and a .930 save percentage. If he stays hot, New York not only wins this game, it will go deep into these playoffs.

The Senators are 9-3 in their last 12 games against the Atlantic Division, but just 2-8 in their last 10 first-round playoff games. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of their last eight games overall.

The Rangers are 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Northeast Division, but 1-7 in their last eight first-round playoff games. The total has stayed ‘under’ in eight of their last 11 first-round playoff games.

The road team in this series is 19-7 in the last 26 games. Ottawa won three of four games this season and is 21-6 in its last 27 games in New York. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 20 of the last 27 meeting in New York. Despite the favorable trends for the road team, stick with the Rangers to grab the early edge with a Game 1 win.

The Pick: New York 3 - Ottawa 2