New York Rangers — 9:1
Two points ahead of the Penguins in the Metropolitan but with four more games played are the Rangers. Their wildly successful offense well known by now (3.48 goals per game), the focus has turned to either finding a way to slow it or just finding a way to outscore it.
The latter is definitely easier for opponents. If anything will be the Rangers’ undoing, it will be its defense. It’s just a slow group that doesn’t keep pucks away from Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta a whole lot.
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Exacerbating this problem is Lundqvist having struggles of his own. He’s actually been noticeably worse than Raanta this year (.912/2.55 vs. .921/2.28) and has started splitting some starts with Raanta. So that would suggest the Rangers are going the way of last season’s Stars — hoping against hope the back end can do enough to survive in the postseason.
Minnesota Wild — 15:2
Two of the last three teams on this odds list are coming off wildly hot streaks. We start with the Wild, who had a 12-game run ended right before 2016 concluded.
Minnesota has now lost its last two games (taking the overtime point in one), leading coach Bruce Boudreau to say he doesn’t like how the Wild are playing. Oh, did I mention Boudreau is a classic playoff choke coach? Yeah. He clearly knows bad play.
Still, Minnesota is just two games off the Central pace with four games in hand on the Chicago Blackhawks. Devan Dubnyk is trying to wrap up the Vezina Trophy early this season, as he leads the league in wins (20) with a ridiculous .939/1.83 statline.
Eric Staal has been a revelation in Minnesota in his first full season, leading the team with 34 points. Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund are both over 30 as well. This team actually has something going on, it’ll just be a matter of whether there’s a true playoff run in the group or not.