Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:15 PM EST.
8:35 PM EST. OT included. Dallas is a true juggernaut with the analytics to prove it. The only thing they lack is quality goaltending but they should be able to limit the Rangers’ scoring chances to a minimum while creating plenty of their own. The Stars are too good to be a playoff bubble team and it’s games like this in their own barn that they have to bring it like there’s no tomorrow and Ken Hitchcock is very good at getting that point across. If we lose this one, so be it but we know for sure that we’re going with the best of it here.
Just before the All-Star break, the Rangers embarked on a difficult four-game trip through Colorado, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose. They had a full week off between that last game in San Jose and their first game back at MSG against Toronto and promptly got buried by the Leafs, 4-0. After just one home game, the Rags hit the road again on Saturday to play in Nashville, got buried 5-2 and will now play another road game in Dallas here. Henrik Lundqvist has been under siege the entire year and it has taken its toll, as Lundqvist has been pulled twice in his last three starts and gave up four goals on 27 shots in his last start. Lundqvist’s save percentages over his last four starts are .852, .692, .571 and .897. Playing the 31st ranked strength of schedule in the league, the Rangers are dead last in so many defensive metric categories that they not only need great goaltending to win, they usually have to score four, five or six goals as well. It gets worse too.
The Rangers called up Vinni Lettieri from AHL Hartford on Sunday to replace injured Jimmy Vesey, who was hurt on an unpenalized hit to the head from Filip Forsberg during the Blueshirts’ 5-2 loss to the Predators in Nashville on Saturday night. Marc Staal is also out after suffering a gruesome hit to the head Saturday, this one from Alexei Emelin. Staal has suffered at least three previous concussions, including one almost exactly a year ago. Vesey and Staal join Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider and Kevin Shattenkirk on the rack. Vesey, Buchnevich and Kreider were three of the best players on New York that also brought energy and Shattenkirk was its only decent puck-moving defenseman. Now D Steven Kampfer likely draws in for Staal after being a healthy scratch for five straight games and 22 of the previous 27. Being a healthy scratched defenseman for the Rangers is equivalent to being the sixth string goaltender on the Hurricanes. The Rags are a mess, their coach is clueless and we’re not letting up on this Rangers fade just yet.
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DALLAS -1½ +139 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.78)