Currently on a 5 game winning streak, the New York Rangers are tied for the best record in the NHL. Those placing picks know the Rangers have the edge against the other contenders.
Face-off is set for 8:00 pm ET tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This game can be seen on NBCSN. According to NHL odds, the Rangers are a -160 betting favorite and the total for the game is 5 goals. These odds are quite high considering that Chicago has also been playing well, but with a hostile Madison Square Garden in support of their Rangers and New York playing so well, it's understandable under the circumstances.
Crawford vs. Talbot
One would assume in a game like this that each team would put their best available goalie in net.
Although it's unconfirmed, this will be a Corey Crawford vs. Cam Talbot matchup. Since Henrik Lundvist went down with an injury, Cam Talbot has a record of 13-2-3 in the games in which he's played. He's virtually moved the Rangers up the standings with his top-notch goaltending.
As for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford (29-14-5, 2.18 GAA) knows what its like to be in big games. In the month of March, Crawford is 5-0 with a 1.32 GAA. Chicago is a team that's known for being able to play defense as they're 2nd in the NHL in goals allowed and 2nd also in power play killing. This has the makings of a low scoring game as you have two of the hottest goalies in the NHL.
Good teams need that key go-to guy in crucial moments of the game and the Rangers have that luxury in the form of Rick Nash. Nash has turned himself into an experienced goal scorer. He hasn't had a point in his last 3 games, but has 12 shots on goal in his last 2 games and has an outside shot at a 50 goal season.
Nash keeps pressure on the opposition with an amazing 260 shots on goal for the season and carries a +24 when he's on the ice. This game could come down to 1 or 2 goals and Rick Nash is the player to be watching where the Rangers are concerned.
Another possible player to keep an eye on as you form your NHL picks would be winger Chris Kreider, Kreider has had 2 assists to go along with 12 shots on goal in his last 3 games.
It hasn't necessarily been his best season at 12 goals and 24 assists in 55 games, but Patrick Sharp is coming off of a huge 2 goal game in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Sharp is a power play force and has put amazing pressure on opposing goaltenders lately with 25 shots on goal in his last 5 games to go along 2 goals and 2 assists. Sharp should be a factor in this game.
The main player to watch for the Hawks is center Jonathan Toews. Toews is coming off of a 2 goal, 2 assist game against the Islanders and has had 9 points in his last 6 games. Toews carries by far the best plus/minus differential on the Blackhawks squad with a +27. Even though Toews has been lighting the lamp on a regular basis, this game should come down to defense.
The total is 5 and if you can find an SBR A+ Rated Sportsbook in which it's listed at 5.5, please grab it. Nonetheless that's too much juice to lay with New York. I like under the total in this game.
NHL Pick- Chicago/New York - under 5 at 5 Dimes