Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:15 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. OT included. The Rangers last game was exactly one week ago in San Jose that concluded their four-game trip that started in Colorado. Not only is this New York’s first game back from said trip but it also comes after a long layoff. In fact, one could assume that a bunch of them didn’t even get on the plane back from Southern California to frigid New York, likely choosing to have their partners join them in sunny California if they weren’t already with them. This is a long layoff and not a favorable situation for a team that is awful to begin with.
We’ve documented the Rangers poor play all year, as this is a team that rarely plays a full 60 minutes, is lacking in focus and intensity, is riddled with defensive-zone deficiencies, and has been kept afloat in shallow waters only by consistently spectacular goaltending. That spectacular goaltending is starting to predictably regress also. The Rangers have allowed the third most shot attempts in the NHL (while recording the eighth fewest attempts), have surrendered the second-most shots on goal, have the fourth-worst shots for/against percentage and are trending downward, yielding a fraction less than 37 shots per over the last 19 contests in which they have allowed 35 or more 13 times and 40 or more six times. The Rangers have done this while playing the easiest schedule in the league (ranked 31st). We will not relent on fading this team because when they do win, it is usually luck driven, as they rarely outplay or outwork anyone. Assuredly, they will not outplay the Maple Leafs tonight.
As it turns out, Mike Babcock was toying with us for the first half of the season but last night, we all saw his “ace-in-in-the-hole”. The media and fans (us too) were insisting that Toronto needed defensive help at the trade deadline while Babcock and his staff were snickering to themselves. That Travis Dermott came from the same place as so many others on this roster is no coincidence. The best organizations, the ones with the highest aspirations, tend to do their most significant building from within and Babcock knew he had that asset waiting to shine. Nine games into his career, Dermott acts, thinks and plays like he’s the real deal and he's a massive upgrade from that dead weight (Polak) that he replaced. Justin Holl didn’t look out of place either but he’s likely to be sent back for more grooming once Ron Hainsey returns. The Maple Leafs are so deep that Leo Komarov and Kasperi Kapanen are on the fourth line, thus giving the Leafs four legit scoring lines. The Maple Leafs made the Islanders look silly last night and the good news is that the Rangers are almost the mirror image of the Islanders in that both teams have goal scorers all over the roster but pay no attention to defense. The only real difference is in goal, where the Rangers colossal flaws have been masked often by good goaltending. Lastly, Toronto’s “dad’s trip” begins tonight although several of the dads were at last night’s game in Toronto and we expect s similar effort as they one they put forth last night.
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
Toronto +106 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.12)