Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (8-6, +9.4 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
In my last NHL picks write-up I predicted the return of Nathan Horton would play a factor in a Bruins Game 1 victory over the Leafs. As expected Horton looked plenty rested after getting over 10 days to heal and scored what proved to be the game winner in a Bruins 4-1 victory which was a maximum five unit play for the SJ acolytes.
Please note loyal readers (or should I say, Mom), that tonight’s game between the Caps and the Rangers is not my only opinion in tonight’s NHL picks, for I have another selection if you would care to peruse Bruins vs. Leafs.
Let's take a look at the NHL odds in Wednesday night's Game 4 tilt between Boston and Toronto.
The Rangers postseason hopes hinge on the outcome of tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden. The eked out a narrow 4-3 victory on Monday night after suffering a devastating 1-0 overtime defeat in Washington in Game 2 of the series. The Rangers hope to replicate their offensive effort after totaling only one goal in their first two games.
Perhaps the most optimistic sign for the Rangers was their power play tally by the game’s first star of the night Derick Brassard which put New York ahead early in the 2nd period. This was an emotional boon to Rangers fans as they watched their man-advantage unit stagger throughout the regular season, connecting on only 15.7% of their opportunities which ranked them 23rd in the NHL.
From Zero to Hero
Twenty-three-year-old Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh accidentally shot the puck out of play and got whistled for a delay-of-game penalty during the overtime session in Game 2. This subsequently led to the Capitals top ranked power play unit scoring the game winner and moving in front 2-0 in the series.
However, in Game 3 it was the same Ryan McDonagh who narrowly kept the puck in the offensive zone and slid a pass to Mats Zuccarello who put the wheels in motion for Derek Stepan’s 4-3 game winner. McDonagh also held Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin off the stat sheet after shadowing him throughout the game.
There were was the proverbial team effort which led to the Rangers victory on Monday night and, as stated, the sudden surge of offense was the determining factor. However, as we handicap Game 4 we must also look at the players who are moving from the shelf and back onto the ice for New York. Center Brian Boyle made his return earlier in the series and the Rangers will welcome back defenseman Marc Staal after suffering an eye injury in early March as well as the possible return of Ryan Clowe.
A healthy Rangers team will be all the more effective in front of their home crowd tonight and let’s not forget that they have arguably the best goalie on the planet in Henrik Lundqvist manning the crease. There truly isn’t much separating these teams so to have an overwhelming opinion one way or the other could be a dangerous decision for your bankroll. I am inclined to back the suddenly surging New York Rangers in this spot but am aware that the Caps could turn the tables and jump out to a commanding 3-1 series lead with a victory tonight.