Friday’s NHL slate consists of just two games. The smaller slate allows us to dive deep and focus on any betting opportunities.
The Boston Bruins defeated the Rangers in overtime on Wednesday by a score of 3-2. This win extended Boston’s point streak to nine games, with the Bruins going 8-0-1 over that stretch.
Despite the win, it was not a good game for the Bruins. The Rangers won the expected goal battle 2.3 to 1.46, holding a 61.1% expected goal rate for the game.
The 2.3 expected goals for the Rangers was a season high, which is a shock considering the Bruins entered the game with the league’s best mark in terms of expected goals against.
Despite the mediocre game, the Bruins came out with two points which is what good teams do. Tuukka Rask made a series of high-end saves and then Brad Marchand ended the game in overtime. I have no real concerns about the Bruins despite the poor performance. They are one of the best teams in the league.
However, there could be concern about the NY Rangers offense.
Artemi Panarin was injured in the second period of Wednesday’s game. He barely played in the third period, with his only shift coming when the Rangers were on the powerplay. He did not play in overtime or at even strength in the third period.
Panarin is an MVP contender and leads the Rangers with 15 points in the first 12 games of the season. He’s carried the Rangers offense for most of the season.
Generating scoring chances on the Bruins is already hard enough. If Panarin does not play on Friday, it’ll become a real struggle.
Mika Zibanejad has just one goal on the season after scoring 41 goals last year. Players like Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider have been relatively quiet to open the season. Youngsters Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere are borderline invisible for New York.
The Rangers two goals on Wednesday came from Julien Gauthier and Kevin Rooney. While it’s nice to see the fourth line guys get involved, you absolutely need more.
Thankfully for the Rangers, their defense has improved dramatically since last year. The Rangers finished last year with the second worst expected goals against per hour, but this season, they find themselves right around league average.
Goaltender Igor Shesterkin did not play on Wednesday, but he’s expected to be back in the crease on Friday. The Russian netminder entered the season as the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. After a bit of a slow start, he has really settled in his past few starts. In his last four games, Shesterkin has given up just seven goals while posting a save percentage of .939.
Even if Panarin plays, I’d lean towards the under in this game. If he misses the game, I love it even more.
Bet: Under 6 Goals @ -125
Covid has produced some weird situations in sports over the past year. We’ve seen events cancelled, cardboard cutouts instead of fans, teams play with no quarterbacks, etc. You name it, we’ve seen it.
Covid cancellations have caused a weird scheduling quirk for the NHL, as due to the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche postponing games, the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes are playing seven straight games against each other.
If this was a play-off series, it’d be an elimination game for the Blues. Arizona has won three of the first four meetings, which is a bit of a surprise as the Blues enter with the much better reputation.
Three of the four games that these teams have played so far have been one-goal games. This is no surprise, as the two teams are near each other in the standings and their underlying metrics are pretty close to each other.
Despite this, the Blues are considered near-locks for a postseason spot while the Coyotes are expected to compete for the final playoff spot. The reason for this is the Blues have more talent throughout their roster, and they’re better equipped to take advantage of their opportunities.
Conor Garland has been awesome for Arizona, and players like Nick Schmaltz and Phil Kessel are solid contributors. However, the Blues have guys like Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Torey Krug who can do more damage offensively.
I think the line in this game is about equal value wise, but I’m willing to lay the juice on St. Louis to avenge these recent results. The practice time over the past few days should do them good.
Bet: Blues ML @ -135
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Expert NHL Picks
Bruins/Rangers Under 6 Goals @ -125 (Click to bet)
Blues ML @ -135 (Click to bet)
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