NHL Odds: Rangers Could Have Hands Full With Underdog Stars

Can the Habs bounce back against the Sabres?

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We are off and running in the 2021-22 NHL season after another exciting slate of action. Home teams swept the board Wednesday night, with the Anaheim Ducks being the only underdog to cash. All five games finished under the total, which could be foreshadowing of what to expect over the coming days as teams get their sea legs underneath them.

It’s a busy Thursday schedule, with nine games to get through, featuring three teams on the second night of a back-to-back.

These are the wagers we’re looking at from FanDuel Sportsbook.

Dallas Stars vs. New York Rangers
Moneyline: Stars +114, Rangers -134
Spread: Stars +1.5 (-240), Rangers -1.5 (+195)
Total: 6 Over -106, Under -114

The Rangers must have pissed off the NHL schedule makers after they slated them for a back-to-back with travel on the third night of the season. New York was handed a convincing defeat Wednesday, dropping a 5-1 decision, and now heads home to take on the Dallas Stars.

The Blueshirts were awful at five-on-five Wednesday, getting out-possessed, out-shot and out-chanced. New York attempted one measly high-danger chance, attempting just 12 shots and posting a 47.6% Corsi rating in 43:30 minutes of action. Things don’t get any easier against the defensive-minded Stars.

Dallas finished last season with the fifth-ranked expected goals-for percentage at five-on-five, emphasizing strong defensive zone play. The Stars allowed the third-fewest scoring and high-danger chances, resulting in the fourth-best expected goals-against. Despite the dominance, the Stars finished last season with a 0.977 PDO (save percentage plus shooting percentage), making them progression candidates this season, as they work their way up to average (1.000).

New York was dominated by the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and faces a more daunting opponent in the Stars on Thursday. This price warrants a play on the Stars as they look to open their season with a win.

The Picks: Stars +114

Montreal Canadiens vs. Buffalo Sabres
Moneyline: Canadiens -142, Sabres +120
Spread: Canadiens -1.5 (+180), Sabres +1.5 (-220)
Total: 5.5 Over -122, Under +100

The Canadiens never stood a chance Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Habs were entirely out of their element, relying on Jake Allen to keep them in their season-opening contest. Allen’s performance wasn’t enough to steal the victory, though, and now Montreal needs to pick up the pieces in time for its game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Only one team put up a worse expected goals-for percentage than the Habs on Wednesday, and their circumstances worsened on the second night of their back-to-back. The apparent factor impacting the Canadiens is playing on consecutive nights to open the season. The other noteworthy aspect is that Montreal started primary goaltending Allen on Wednesday. Carey Price is unavailable to start the season, and the Habs will rely on Sam Montembeault on Thursday against the Sabres. Montembeault last appeared in the NHL during the 2019-20 season, where he posted an 89.0% save percentage, 79.5% high-danger save percentage and -6.8 goals saved above average. It’s unlikely Montembeault is the difference-maker that Allen was Wednesday night.

Assessing a team’s chances based on preseason performances isn’t a great measuring stick, but the Sabres looked good in their exhibition games. Buffalo posted an expected goals-for percentage above 50.0% in four of its six preseason games, cumulatively finishing with the eighth-best rating at 56.5%. The Sabres had noteworthy production at five-on-five, putting up top-five offensive metrics in six preseason games.

We should have guarded optimism about the Sabres’ chances this season, but they looked good in preseason action and get favorable circumstances in their first game of the season. We’re betting the Sabres come out on top Thursday, although it might take overtime or a shootout to get there.

The Picks: Sabres +120, 60-minute tie +310

All NHL predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid

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