Bruins vs. Rangers NHL Preview

Anthony Bitetto #22 and Libor Hajek #25 of the New York Rangers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

Anthony Bitetto #22 and Libor Hajek #25 of the New York Rangers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

A pair of Original Six rivals face-off on Friday night when the Bruins travel to the Big Apple to meet the Rangers. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks!

 

Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers

Friday, February 26, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at Madison Square Garden

After dropping four consecutive games, the Rangers came up big against two upper-tier divisional rivals when they defeated the Flyers, 3-2, in a shootout, and followed that with a convincing 4-1 win over the Capitals. However, the euphoria was short-lived as a rematch with the Flyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday night saw their modest winning-streak halted in a 4-3 loss.

The Rangers are now 6-8-3 on the season and the loss to Philadelphia was just another near-miss New York has had this season. Of their 11 losses (including the three in extra frames), a staggering eight of those contests have been come by a goal or less. The Blueshirts’ biggest issue has been their offense not firing this season, averaging just 2.47 goals per game which ranks them 25th in the league.

But on the flip side, the goaltending, and defense in general, has been better than most as evidenced by their 2.65 goals allowed average, placing them ninth in the league in that category. However, when you are allowing more goals than you’re scoring, then you will be a sub .500 team and that’s what we are seeing this season with the Rangers thus far.

 

Bruins Stunned by Isles

Until a few weeks ago, the Bruins were the hottest club in the league but that has changed considerably after dropping three of their last four, including Thursday night’s 7-2 loss to the Islanders. It looked like another competitive game with New York, to whom the B’s had lost on February 13th, until the third period when the Islanders shattered a 2-2 tie with five goals in the final stanza.

Jaroslav Halak got the start between the pipes for Boston and he had not yielded any third-period goals in his six previous outings but Thursday night saw a sudden end to that flawless streak. Left-winger Nick Ritchie was objective about the setback: “Tonight was hopefully a one-off. We just fell apart and kind of stopped playing, and that’s what happens in this league. There’s a lot of good teams.”

The Bruins have been outscored 14-6 over their last three losses but they are still among the stingiest teams in the league, allowing 2.53 goals per game which places them seventh in the league. However, their penalty-killing unit trails only Colorado, extinguishing 88.1 percent of its opponents’ opportunities while the power play unit is connecting on 28.8 percent of its chances, ranking it sixth in that category.

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

The NHL odds at all of the best online books are dealing the Bruins between -165 and -182 favorites. But I’m not sure I understand the logic behind that steep number. The Bruins just played last night and are on the second leg of back-to-back games. They were clearly gassed in the third period when they got blown out and must now do it all over again against a Rangers team that has been competitive in virtually every game they have played this season.

Unless something unforeseen occurs between now and the time the puck drops, Tuukka Rask will be tending the twine for the Bruins but he has not been as bullet-proof as in years past. The 33-year-old veteran checks in with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage, decent but not elite numbers.

If you blindly adhere to trends then you must take note of Boston winning the last six meetings between these teams. However, the price we are being asked to lay on the Bruins, a team playing back-to-back road games, is geared towards getting the squares to send it in. We will flip the script and grab all that delicious juice and bet the Rangers will see the puck fall its way tonight and give them a well-deserved victory.

Free NHL Pick: Rangers +155 at BetMGM

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