Desperation is rampant as the Rangers face a 3-0 series deficit skating into Game 4 but where does the value lie in our NHL odds for Thursday night’s critical showdown between Boston and New York?
Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (11-6-1, +18.4 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
When last I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, for my NHL picks, the Bruins and Rangers were previewed in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series. I flatly stated that the winner was too close to call and sure enough, the B’s wound up winning a hotly contested affair that took an extra period to determine the outcome.
However, I did believe there would be value in Under 5 goals scored and after a scoreless first period, I was feeling pretty good about our prospects. Unfortunately, the offense picked up and Boston prevailed 3-2 which left us kissing our sister. A push is better than a loss and we will try to find value in our NHL picks for not only this game but the other playoff preview I’ve written, featuring the Blackhawks/Red Wings clash on Thursday night as well.
Boston is on the brink of eliminating their rivals from New York but then again, they were firmly in the driver’s seat in their last series against Toronto when they let a 3-1 series advantage slip away, only to launch an historic third period rally in Game 7 to vanquish the Leafs. As they proceed into Game 4, it appears as though the tenor of the series was set in Game 3 when Boston outmuscled and outhustled the Rangers in their own building en route to a 2-1 victory.
While the big name goal scorers get all the attention, it was indeed Boston’s fourth line of Thornton, Campbell and Paille that did the damage. The Rangers simply have no answer for the Bruins brusing, physical checking line and that was never more evident than when Derek Dorsett tried to bait Brad Marchand into a fight but the pesky Bruins winger refused to bite. Instead, coach Claude Julien whistled Marchand to the bench and replaced him with the enforcer, Shawn Thornton. Thornton immediately introduced himself to Dorsett and demonstrated that the B’s are the intimidators and not the intimidated.
It was a palpable turning point in the game that followed another goal from Johnny Rocket (Boychuk) from just inside the blueline. Boychuk has an uncanny knack of blazing the puck on net from the point. Oftentimes you will see defensemen wind up, close their eyes and unleash a rocket that misses the net and fractures the glass. Boychuk and the rest of the Boston defense has done a yeoman’s job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone while keeping roaming Rangers out of their own.
New York Rangers
The Rangers come into this matchup as the -120 favorites, with the NHL odds makers listing the total at 5. I can offer little solace to Rangers fans other than pointing out that their team is just about as good as their opponents, the Boston Bruins, but not quite. King Henrik was superb in Game 4 but his offense was not. The Rangers simply cannot get the room to roam in the offensive zone because the Bruins hyperkinetic energy swallows them whole. New York managed 24 shots on net but only their lone goal was challenging for Tuukka Rask. Lundqvist on the other hand had to stand on his head, limiting the B’s to only two goals, one of which was dumb luck.
So here the Rangers stand, like Custer at Little Bighorn. Even avoiding a sweep will take a team effort and another stellar outing by Lundqvist. But as far as the series is concerned, the boys in blue can start making their vacation plans.
It would be easy to blindly pick the Bruins with my sports picks tonight but I’m not so sure the Rangers will go quietly. They have only been soundly beaten in one of the three games and get another bite at the apple in front of their home crowd tonight. As in Game 1, I am staying away from the side and relying on the rock solid play of the men patrolling the crease on both sides of the ice.Free Picks: Play Under 5 (-135) for 3 units at Bet365.com