NY Rangers vs Washington

NY Rangers vs Washington | NHL Betting Preview and Matchup Analysis

The big question entering the NHL season opener between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals on Wednesday is whether the league’s active all-time goal-scorer, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, will be able to play. The Caps are favored on the NHL odds.

How to Bet Rangers at Capitals NHL Hockey Odds & TV Info

Why Bet on New York?

The last time the Caps and Rangers faced off, Washington won 4-2 last regular season and the two teams fought six times in the first period, including a line brawl when the puck dropped. Two nights before, the Capitals beat the Rangers 6-3 and Tom Wilson sparked a brawl between the two teams with a dirty hit.

Winger Ryan Reaves should be able to play. Reaves was injured when he was hit by Devils defenseman P.K. Subban during a preseason game on Oct. 6. Reaves scored five points (one goal, four assists) in 37 games for Vegas last season and had one assist in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He was traded to New York in the offseason. Reaves, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, has drawn 71 fighting majors. He was brought in for his toughness.

New York made news recently by signing center Mika Zibanejad to an eight-year, $68 million contract extension. The deal will kick in starting next season for the top Rangers center. Zibanejad had 24 goals and 50 points last season in 56 games. Zibanejad has been fantastic over the last three seasons, piling up 199 points in 195 regular-season games. The 28-year-old has grown into a bonafide No. 1 NHL center after starting his career somewhat slowly with Ottawa.

Last season, Adam Fox won the Norris Trophy voted as best defenseman in the NHL after leading the position with 42 assists and finishing second with 47 points in 55 games. Fox led Rangers defensemen in ice time on the power play (3:45) and shorthanded (2:36) last season. He is their most important skater.

Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko were drafted first and second overall in 2020 and 2019, respectively. But Kakko, 20, hasn’t scored more than 10 goals in a season yet, and Lafrenière, who turns 20 on Oct. 11, had 21 points in 56 games during his rookie season.

This will be the Rangers head coaching debut of Gerard Gallant. He replaced David Quinn, who was fired May 12 after three seasons.

Why Bet on Washington?

Last season, the Capitals were tied for fourth in the NHL in goals (188) and their 3.36 goals per game average marked the second-highest average by the Capitals in the last 10 seasons. Peter Laviolette is set to begin his second season with the franchise and first full 82-game season with the Capitals. Last season, Laviolette set a franchise record with a .688 points percentage (36-15-5), the highest points percentage by a first-year head coach in franchise history.

The Capitals 2021-22 season-opening roster includes seven players aged 25 or younger, including three rookies Hendrix Lapierre (19), Connor McMichael (20) and Martin Fehervary (22). Lapierre is projected to start the season on a line with Conor Sheary and T.J. Oshie. That will give Lapierre an opportunity to learn from the veteran forwards. Lapierre had eight goals and 31 points in 21 QMJHL games in 2020-21.

Veteran John Carlson has finished in the top-five in points among defensemen in each of the last four seasons, recording 44 points (10g, 34a) in 52 games last season. Should Carlson finish in the top-5 this season, he will be the 23rd defenseman in NHL history to accomplish the feat and the first since Brent Burns from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

Washington is listing superstar Alex Ovechkin as questionable with a lower-body injury. Ovechkin, who ranks sixth on the NHL’s all-time goal list, all but ensured he’d finish his Hall of Fame career with the Capitals by signing a five-year deal worth $47.5 million on July 27. He did practice Tuesday.

With 730 career goals, Ovechkin needs two goals to pass Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list. A 37-goal season would propel Ovechkin to 767 goals, which would pass Dionne, Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Ovechkin needs 165 goals to pass Wayne Gretzky (894g) as the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer.

He would need to average 33 goals per season during that span to pass Gretzky. Ovechkin scored at least 33 goals in seven straight seasons prior to last year, when he collected 24 goals in 45 games (a pace for nearly 44 in an 82-game season).

Another Washington star, Nicklas Backstrom, opens the season on long-term injured reserve. The move means the 33-year-old center, suffering from a hip injury, will miss at least the first 10 games and 24 days of the regular season. Backstrom had surgery on the hip in 2015 and it began to bother him again in the playoffs last season, when he had just one assist in the Caps’ five-game series loss to the Bruins in the first round.

Game Trends

  • Rangers are 9-24 in their last 33 games as an underdog.
  • Rangers are 1-4 in their last 5 games as a road underdog.
  • Rangers are 1-4 in their last 5 Wednesday game.
  • Capitals are 23-6 in their last 29 games as a favorite.
  • Favorite is 41-16 in the last 57 meetings.
  • Over is 3-0-1 in the last 4 meetings.

Expert Prediction

  • Rangers 3, Capitals 2


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