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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
New York Rangers
32-14-8 (3rd in Metropolitan Division)
30-19-6 (3rd in Pacific Division)
Artemi Panarin (62)
Connor McDavid (99)
Mika Zibanejad (29)
Connor McDavid (42)
Adam Fox (44)
Connor McDavid (57)
Adam Fox (26)
Zach Hyman (16)
Mika Zibanejad (3.52)
Shots (Per Game)
Connor McDavid (4.29)
The Rangers are traveling northeast to face the Edmonton Oilers for the second time this season. These teams first faced each other in late November and lost 4-3 behind four Oilers' third-period goals.
The Rangers are on a tear as of late and have 72 points. They are in third place in the Metropolitan Division but could be within striking distance of second with a win tonight. The Oilers have 66 points and are in the first Wild Card spot. They would stay in the same spot if they lose but can move into second or third in the Pacific Division with a win.
The Rangers are on a six-game winning streak and have scored 31 goals in that time. They are firing on all cylinders. Offensively, they cannot do much wrong, but defensively, they could step up a little bit. New York gave up four goals in their previous game against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Rangers have many talented players in Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, and Chris Kreider. I will not go into their individual stats, but I will say this. Each player can pass and/or score at a very high level.
Igor Shesterkin has been a workhorse for the Rangers this year. His 24 wins are the fourth-most in the league, and his 2.52 goals against average is the tenth-lowest.
The Oilers are electric on the offensive side but need a lot of work defensively. They score over 3.7 goals per game and have the best offense in the NHL. However, their offensive success has not been replicated on the defensive side. The Oilers gave up four regulation goals to the Red Wings in their previous game (a 5-4 shootout loss) and six goals to the Montreal Canadiens before that. Edmonton simply lacks quality defensemen and has suffered as a result of it. It is also worth noting that the Oilers have a questionable goaltending duo in Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell.
The Oilers are led by their center trio of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. These three have a combined 245 points (over 45% of the Oilers’ total points). If this trio is firing on all cylinders, any opposing team will be in for a long night.
Stuart Skinner will likely get the start in net for the Oilers. He is performing pretty well this season, but the Oilers do not win enough when he plays.
The Oilers may be favored to win, but I would bet on the Rangers. New York has a lot of momentum right now and performs better on the road. Bet on the Rangers.
The Rangers are the underdogs but will win if they avoid committing penalties and slow down Connor McDavid.
The Rangers are taking on an Oilers squad with the best power-play unit in the NHL. Edmonton converts over 31% of their opportunities and scored a power play goal last game. The Rangers have to play smart hockey and keep this unit off the ice.
Connor McDavid may be the best player in the NHL. The center has an absurd 99 points (42 goals, 57 assists) and can do it all with the puck. The Rangers’ defensemen must take him out of the picture as much as possible and force Edmonton to depend on their other players.
The Oilers are the favorites but will only win if they score first and shoot 35+ times.
The Oilers failed to score first in their previous five losses but scored first in four of their last five victories. I will not overcomplicate this. Edmonton almost always wins when they score first and almost always loses when they fail to score first. The Oilers must be the first team to put a puck in the back of the net.
The Oilers average over 33 shots a game. However, they will likely be facing New York’s Igor Shesterkin in net today. Shesterkin is nothing if not consistent. Edmonton must increase their shot output to at least 35 to give themselves a chance.
I spoke above about how the Rangers' defense needs to improve. That can happen if Adam Fox takes charge. The Long Island native has been very offensively-minded this season but is still a top defenseman in the NHL. Since he is the best player at his position on the Rangers, he must set a good example and hope his teammates follow.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins deserves his flowers. The center plays behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl but is still very talented. Nugent-Hopkins has 66 points (26 goals, 40 assists) and plays nearly 20 minutes a game. He is also coming off a two-goal, one-assist game. The British Columbia native must take the momentum from that game and bring it into this one.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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