Hockey fans in general are a pretty devoted bunch, yet you will find that besides their own hometown team, most will have a soft spot for one of the Original Six teams. Given the size and popularity of the NHL now, it’s easy to forget that the league used to be somewhat regional, consisting of just six teams. While these teams are, for the most part beloved, they all have a reputation to uphold, which makes their true fans a little less forgiving when things are not going well. As it stands at the moment, there are only 2 of the original 6 teams sitting in a playoff spot, with one of them, the Detroit Red Wings, sitting with the worst record in the league. The New York Rangers still have a shot at boosting the number of playoff teams to 3, but they need to start getting results now. They will be in Montreal, home of another Original Six team, on Thursday night as they look to start clawing their way above the playoff line. The Canadiens are favored by 1 ½ on home ice, with the goal total set at 6 ½.
When: Thursday, February 27 at 7 PM EST
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal
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Why bet on the New York Rangers
The New York Rangers aren’t just hanging around in the race for the playoffs, they are making a serious assault at getting in. The Rangers come into this one on a 4-game winning streak and have now won 8 of their last 10. Overall, they are sitting at 34-24-4, good for 72 points, which leaves them sitting 4 points out of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. This is a great spot for the Rangers to be in when you consider that they are still basically in rebuilding mode, but missing out on the playoffs after getting this close would probably still be a disappointment. They have been good on the road this season, going 17-11-2, whilst also being a very healthy 21-9 ATS in those games.
Why bet on the Montreal Canadiens
While the Rangers are on the rise, the Montreal Canadiens are basically just treading water and losing even more ground in the process. The Canadiens have been playing .500 hockey of late, going 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. They are a couple of games above .500 on the season, but at 9 points back of the playoff line at this late stage of the season, they are almost certainly going to be watching the playoffs from home. Perhaps the biggest surprise with the Montreal Canadiens this season is that they have not been very good at home, going just 13-15-6 in their own building. One of those home losses came in a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Rangers earlier this season. That said, they have won 8 of their last 12 home meetings against the Rangers.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
History would suggest that the Canadiens would be able to take out the Rangers on home ice, but we really need to look at what is happening now. New York are making a serious playoff push, and I think they continue their hot streak with a road win on Thursday night.
New York Rangers 4 Montreal Canadiens 3