The Ottawa Senators continue to ride the red-hot goaltending of Andrew Hammond and now find themselves in playoff position. On Thursday, they’ll face the New York Rangers, a team they could very well end up facing in the first round of the playoffs. The Sens find themselves as a slight home favorite on the NHL betting lines.
The New York Rangers Can Win Because…
They’ve been playing great over the last month and Sens goaltender Andrew Hammond has been fading a little bit. Hammond, a rookie, has been the surprise catalyst of the Sens season. This team was read its last rites about a month ago but an incredible winning streak has not only got them back in the chase, but they are in playoff position. However, Hammond isn’t exactly a wunderkind or a special prospect in the Sens system. He’s a 27-year-old rookie that looks like a fluke more than anything else. Hammond was 7-13-2 with a 3.51 GAA and an .896 save percentage before getting the call. He’s tapered off of late as Hammond had allowed just 17 goals in his first 13 outings. However, he’s allowed nine over his last three.
The Rangers have still won seven of their last nine and are playing at a very high level these days. Their only two losses came to the two Western Conference finalists from last season. Other than that, they’ve been on a roll. Cam Talbot is playing great in net and the offense is clicking. They’re worth a play here as everyone overreacts on the Sens.
The Ottawa Senators Can Win Because…
They are absolutely unconscious right now. Not only have they won seven straight going into Thursday’s meeting with the Rangers, they’ve won 15 of their last 17 games. They are literally tearing up everything in their path. Everything is clicking for them right now as goaltender Andrew Hammond has been untouchable since he was called up, winning 14 of 15 starts while posting a 1.67 GAA and .946 save percentage. The other aspect is that the Sens offense has come to life. They averaged just 2.67 goals per game before the All-Star break, which was 20th in the NHL. However, they’ve improved that number to 3.23 goals per game since the All-Star break, which is the second-best number in the league.
As for the Rangers, they’ve cooled off a bit. While they were the Sens equal over the last month, the Rangers have actually gone just 2-2 in their last four games. Ottawa should have the edge here – especially since they’re at home.
Ottawa is hot right now but so are the Rangers. They’ve been the better team all season and equally as good as the Senators over the last month. With Hammond struggling a little bit in recent games, I’m tempted to take a shot with the Rangers here with my NHL picks. The Rangers are 13-5 when on the road with a total of five or less, and they should build on that trend on Thursday.
NHL Pick: Rangers +101 at Bet Heritage