New York Rangers (26-25-8) vs. Minnesota Wild(27-27-6)
Henrik Lundqvist (17-5-8) vs. Devan Dubnyk (21-21-5)
NHL Hockey Thursday February 21 2019 7:00pm Eastern (Madison Square Garden)
Line: New York -115 Over/Under– 6.0
FREE NHL Scores New York Rangers vs Minnesota Wild
Tied in points but facing separate outlooks on the rest of the season, the Wild and Rangers clash in New York tonight. Minnesota is desperately trying to stop their bleeding as they have dropped five games in a row and are coming off back to back shut outs courtesy of the Ducks and Blues. The Rangers snapped Carolina’s three game win streak on Tuesday, holding the Hurricanes to just one goal on 44 shots. Henrik Lundqvist earned first star of the game in Raleigh and gets his second straight start tonight. Opposite of the King, Devan Dubnyk is between the pipes and looks to end a four game game skid.
New York is starting to steady their course and continuing to churn out a season they can be proud of as they head into game number 60. The Rangers entered the campaign with low expectations but as the games have drawn on, there has been marked improvement and for the leagues fourth youngest team with a rookie head coach making the transition from the college game, an average season is seen as a win. In fact, if it were not for a 4-14 slump between December and January, this squad could be right in the thick of the playoff race.
As of late, New York has benefited from some increased production of their depth players. Calvin Brickley scored his first goal of the year Tuesday in just his third game and has 2 points since breaking into the line-up while Vlad Namestikov has four points (3 Goals) in his last three outings after being held off the score sheet for an entire month. This has been a breath of fresh air for a team who had been so top heavy, relying on Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, Mika Ziibanejad and Chris Kreider while their young and inexperienced forwards have tried to find their bearings. Zuccarello has been a point per game player in his 27 games returning from injury and 22 in his last 15, going without a point in only two games during that stretch. Top heavy scoring should not be a huge concern against a Minnesota team that has allowed 20 goals in the last 5 games.
As a young team, the Rangers exhibit young habits, winning and gaining more points at home than on the road, faltering when trailing in the games and feeding off of leads. They have only taken 5 of 32 points when trailing after the first period and are 1-9 away from MSG, emphasizing how their confidence will swing drastically night to night rather than remain steady. New York is also yet to drop a game in regulation while leading after the second period which can pay dividends tonight as the Wild are a staggering 2-21-2 overall when trailing after two.
It has been a rough ride lately for the WIld in a season all too familiar to fans. They are in the playoff hunt but provide no confidence that they are capable of making any noise if they qualify. The franchise seems to realize this as well, opening themselves up as sellers at the trade deadline and they got that ball rolling with the send off of Charlie Coyle to his home town Bruins for Ryan Denato and a fifth round draft pick. The move was made to get some value out of Coyle, who’s contract is expiring at the end of the year. It also shows their eyes are set on the future as Denato is only 22. Minnesota is lucky to even be considered a playoff contender as their 60 points pins them as the 23rd overall team in the NHL but keeps them only one point back of the final western wild card spot.
Fun Stat of the day: 13(!) teams in the East would be within a point of the Avalanche for the West’s final playoff seed while only 7 teams in the West would see themselves within 6 points of the East’s last spot.
The recent faltering for Minnesota has been a painful mix of poor goaltending and scoring inefficiency. Starter Devan Dubnyk has lost 7 of 8 coming out of All Star Weekend while facing more than the teams average of 29.1 shots per game only three times and getting his only win while facing a minuscule 18 SOG. However, the last two games have both seen the Wild blanked 4-0, once to the NHL’s hottest club the Blues and the other to one of the worst in the West in Anaheim. Minnesota led both games in shots and was given only one less power play in the two games combined. Despite the team’s struggles, Center Mikael Granlund has posted 10 points in his last 11GP and is set to be one of their bigger offensive factors in tonight’s match-up.
NY Rangers is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of NY Rangers’s last 6 games at home
NY Rangers is 5-11 SU in its last 16 games at home
Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Minnesota is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games
Minnesota is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
NHL Prediction Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers
The Wild have been mildly impressive on the road this season, posting a .500 record if you discount OT losses (which I don’t think you should) but they have inspired absolutely zero confidence in their ability the last two weeks. Fighting for a playoff spot they dropped four straight home games and I just don’t see how they will find a way to lift themselves up after that. New York has been inconsistent lately but I believe Lundqvist will feed off his 43 save game the other night and continue to stifle the Wild’s offense. Both teams fall in the bottom six of goals scored so the lamp shouldn’t be lit too often tonight. I like the Rangers by a goal or two.