The New York Rangers (8-9-3) and New Jersey Devils (7-9-2) are set to drop the puck at 7:00 P.M. Eastern Thursday night. Both of these teams have had rough seasons so far but hope to reverse their fortunes in this one.
Betting lines have the Rangers as a slight (-110) favorite while the Devils are (+100).
New Jersey is back in action after a two-week postponement when 14 players tested positive for COVID-19. Young star Jack Hughes has cooled down since his eight points in five games before the COVID-19 pause. Hughes has recorded only one goal and three assists totaling four points since the Devils returned to play.
The Rangers have had all sorts of on the ice and off the ice issues this season. Star forward Artemi Panarin has taken a leave of absence from the team to deal with less-than-credible allegations of assault in 2011 as part of a smear campaign following Panarin’s criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since Panarin left the team, the Rangers are 2-2. There is still no timetable for his return.
New York Rangers Betting Preview
The Rangers are a completely different team without Panarin. They’ve allowed almost one goal more per game in his absence and are struggling to generate offense. Panarin is still the Rangers’ leader in points with 18 (five goals, 13 assists), even after missing four games this season with no word on when or if he will return to the team this season.
New York beat the last place Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Tuesday night, which was their fourth win in their last six games.
Igor Shesterkin has been confirmed as the starter Thursday night. Shesterkin is 5-7-1 this year with a 2.40 GAA, and a .917 save percentage.
Kaapo Kakko, the second overall pick in the 2019 Draft, has missed several games this season after testing positive for COVID-19, but all signs point to Kakko returning to the lineup Wednesday.
New Jersey Devils Betting Preview
Since returning from the COVID-19 break, the Devils are 3-6-0 and have lost six of their last seven games. The Devils did play well against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night but fell short, 2-1, for their third straight loss.
However, the Devils have seen great success against the Rangers this year, beating New York 4-3 and 5-2 in their January meetings.
Mackenzie Blackwood hasn’t been confirmed as the starter as of publication, but he is expected to get the nod between the pipes. Blackwood has a 5-4-1 record this season with a 2.58 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
However, if something changes with Blackwood, Aaron Dell could be the Thursday starter. Dell is 0-2-0 with the Devils this season after being claimed off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also has a 2.80 GAA and a .902 save percentage.
On to the Pick
With two wins already against the Rangers this year, I’m looking for the Rangers to make it three straight against their rivals.
Take the Devils at (+100) Thursday Night.
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