Rangers (2-4) @ Devils (0-7)
According to current NHL betting odds the Devils are a -125 money line favorite and the total is posted at 5.0. The home team has won 4 of the last 5 in this series. The Devils have won 5 of the last 7 at home versus the Rangers.
Winless and Desperate
The New Jersey Devils have begun the season with 7 consecutive losses. This will be their first game back home after returning from a road trip that saw them play in 5 different Canadian cities in 11-days. They concluded the trip at Ottawa on Thursday night with a 5-2 loss. New Jersey has scored just 13-goals in their 7-games this season while allowing 26. Cory Schneider is scheduled to get the start in goal tonight for the Devils. In 3 starts on the season Schneider has posted a 2.65 GAA and a .908 save percentage. Future Hall of Fame inductee Martin Brodeur is off to a horrible start to the year. In 4 starts he’s posted a lofty 3.40 GAA and a dismal .865 save percentage. The Devils are 27th in the NHL in goals per game and 26th in goals allowed. Those stats speak volumes as to why they’re off to a horrendous start to the year. After tonight the Devils will back on the road at Columbus on Tuesday before returning home to host Vancouver on Thursday. This once very proud franchise has fallen on recent hard times going 16-36 over their last 52-games. On a positive note the Devils are 26-10 in their last 36 at home following a road trip of 7 or more days.
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Getting Closer to Home
Saying that the Rangers early season schedule has been brutal is a vast understatement. Tonight will mark the 7th consecutive road game to start the year with 2 still remaining before their home opener on versus Montreal on October 28th. This was far from a conspiracy by the NHL scheduling department. Madison Square Garden has been going through a massive renovation product and wasn’t scheduled to be completed at the onset of the season.
Passing the Latest Gut Check
After suffering 3 losses in a row by decisive margins the Rangers showed a ton of character in a 2-0 win at Washington on Wednesday. The “Blue Shirts” dominated play throughout the game outshooting the Capitals by a 36-22 margin. Unfortunately there was bad news following the game, their captain Ryan Callhan injured his thumb and will be out for 3 to 4 weeks. The Rangers were particularly dominant in the middle stanza when they scored both of their goals, and had a huge 21-6 edge in shots on goal. After sustaining a nightmarish beginning to the year Henrik Lundquist posted his first shutout of the season, and was very sharp despite facing limited pressure applied by the Capitals. The Rangers are a very profitable 50-21 in their last 71 games versus an opponent with a losing record.
Although I always respect the odds makers when setting their lines, there are obviously occasions when I disagree. I have a hard time siding with a winless favorite almost 3 weeks into the season. The Rangers come off a huge confidence building win in their previous game, and are sure to have plenty of their fans support in tonight’s game in spite of it being a road tilt. My NHL pick is to lean on the side of the road underdog in this spot.
Free Pick: Rangers +105 over the Devils