NHL Game Preview and Pick- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Rangers
All the action from Madison Square Garden is set to get underway at 4 p.m. (PT) and the game will be available on NHL Center Ice.
Maple Leafs Overview
Toronto came away with a 4-3 victory in Game 1 on Monday night as a 107 NHL odds favorite at home. It earned the much needed two points on the strength of a game-winning goal by Phil Kessel midway through the third period after blowing an earlier two-goal lead created by his goal late in the second. The Maple Leafs are now 5-1 in their last six games and sitting in fifth-place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points. The total has gone OVER in three of their last five games.
The two goals by Kessel were his 11th and 12th of the season and he has added a team-high 26 assists to Toronto’s scoring effort this year. Nazem Kadri remains the team’s highest scorer with 17 goals and 23 assists. James Reimer was in goal on Monday night and stopped 31 of the 34 shots he faced. On the year he has a goals-against-average of 2.55 and a .919 save percentage. While unconfirmed, he should get the start in this game as well.
The loss kept the Rangers stuck at 42 points on the year and tied with Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. They are 19-16-4 this season with a 12-6-2 record on home ice. The total has gone OVER in three of their last five games as a result of tallying 19 goals during that stretch of games.
This new found offense has been a welcomed site for a team that has been mired at the bottom of the NHL in scoring all season long. Overall, New York is averaging 2.4 goals a game which is currently ranked 23rd in the league. Fortunately it still has a shutdown defense that is ranked fourth in goals allowed with a GAA of 2.3. Much of the credit for this has to go to the high level of play by Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Even though he was torched for four goals his last time out, he brings a 2.13 GAA on the year into this matchup.
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Maple Leafs vs. Rangers Betting Lines and Trends
Toronto has been opened as a 141 road underdog on BetOnline’s money line with the Rangers listed as 155 home favorites. The total line for this contest has been set at 5.
The Maple Leafs are 4-9 in the second game of their last 13 home-and-home series but 4-0 in their last four games playing on one day’s rest. The total has gone OVER in eight of their last 14 games following a win.
The Rangers are 2-8 in their last 10 games against a team with a winning record and 0-5 in their last five games against a team from the Northeast Division. The total has stayed UNDER in 12 of their last 19 games playing on one day’s rest.
Head-to-head in this matchup, the road team is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings and the total has gone OVER in six of the last seven games. New York won the only other meeting this season 5-2 on Jan.26 as a 187 home favorite.
Maple Leafs vs. Rangers Game Prediction
While the recent trends in this series along with each team’s current form suggest another high scoring affair, look for defense to be the key factor in this matchup. The free NHL pick for this game is on the Rangers as Lundqvist comes up big in goal this time around.
New York 3 - Toronto 1 (lines provided by BetOnline)
Year-to-Date NHL Record: 25-14-2