The New York Rangers will host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night in a matchup between two teams both vying for deep playoff runs.
On paper this game favors the Blues, but there’s a lot under the surface that makes this a tougher game to get a feel for.
On the Blues’ side, they’ve been playing practically the whole season in the shadow of their division rival, the Colorado Avalanche who have dominated the Western Conference. However, the Blues have been nothing to shirk at as they have the 2nd most points and wins in the Western Conference. St. Louis is coming in having won four straight and four of their last five on the road.
They have an all-star and the league’s current fastest skater in Jordan Kyrou. They also have solid wingers in Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas and former Ranger Pavel Buchnevich.
Defender Justin Faulk has the 4th best plus/minus in the league at 36 and is 2nd best for defenders in that category.
In net Ville Husso has been excellent in 20 games played with the third best goals against per game rate in the league and the 2nd best save percentage behind only the Rangers Igor Shesterkin. Jordan Binnington is a solid No. 2 option, but has simply been outplayed by Husso this season.
The Blues don’t really have any standout stars, but overall they’re a very solid and well-coached team.
For the Rangers, they’re coming off back to back losses and have been less consistent overall but have 71 points compared to St. Louis’ 70.
A huge part of that lies in not having to contend with the absolute powerhouse of the Colorado Avalanche. However, the Rangers have exceeded expectations this season, and are in the thick of the eastern conference playoff race with 29 games left to play.
Forward Chris Kreider is currently 3rd best in the league in goals scored with 34, and the combination of him and Mika Zibanejad has been absolutely electric for the blueshirts this season.
Let’s not forget Artemi Panarin either. The Bread Man is 14th in the league in points and tied for 6th in assists. Kreider, Zibanejad and Panarin have been an awesome three-pronged attack for New York this season.
On the defensive side Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba have shined. Fox has the 5th most assists in the league and the most for any defender. He also has more points than any single player on the Blues.
In net Igor Shesterkin has been 2nd to none. He has the best save percentage in the league and is tied with Boston’s Jeremy Swayman for the best goals against per game rate.
Best Bets and Predictions
If the Rangers are going to win then defense will be key in this game as the Blues have 31 more goals for and only 7 more goals against than them. The Rangers and Blues will not have played yet this season before tomorrow, but they’re very even in both wins and points.
The moneyline is even right now at -110. With the Rangers having dropped their last two and an exceptional record at home this season, take New York to win this game.
It won’t be easy against a strong opponent in St. Louis, but New York has been decent against playoff teams this season and are comfortably better than league average in wins, points, and goals against.
Given how close these teams are in points and wins, taking the 1.5 point spread is a little too risky. This should be a very close game with a more than one point separation potentially coming from an empty-net goal. Count on this to be a one goal difference in the end.
With the over/under at 5.5, take the under. The Rangers and Blues are 3rd and 6th in both total goals against this season and goals against per game, respectively. No reason not to trust the numbers here.
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