Even though Gary Bettman and company have done a lot of good in recent years (including finally figuring out a way to increase scoring again), there are still times when the NHL makes me want to hit my head against the wall in frustration. The most obvious example I can think of is how it’s possible that the NHL decided not to participate in the most recent Olympics, depriving us puck fans of the chance to see the best players in the world represent their countries in an epic tournament.
Alright, enough ranting. This is the NHL Pick of the Week feature, after all, and I should get to the task at hand of handicapping a winner — especially after last week’s Over play on the Predators and Golden Knights fell several goals short. That dropped us to 8-3 on the season for these weekly NHL plays, and we’ll look to get right back on the horse tonight with a wager on the NBCSN game between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Let’s break it down.
Philadelphia Flyers/New York Rangers Betting Odds
The oddsmakers took the bold position of opening New York as a hefty home favorite in this contest, listing the Rangers at -131 on the moneyline when the first line was released Monday afternoon. Bettors quickly pounced on the Flyers, betting this line all the way down to -113 on the Rangers as of the time of writing. That’s good news for anyone looking to back the Broadway Blueshirts, but not ideal for Philadelphia bettors who are now receiving just a +102 return on a bet that once paid +119 at BetOnline. The early bird gets the worm, indeed.
While the moneyline has seen a lot of movement (and subsequently the puck line, with New York -1.5 going from +200 to +210 while Philadelphia +1.5 has soared to -250), there hasn’t been much action at all on the total. In fact, the juice on the Over/Under 6.5 remains exactly balanced at the time of writing, with BetOnline offering -105 on either side. That’s where the line opened, although there was some early Under action that bumped the juice to -108 on the Under 6.5 before the line moved back.
All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline.ag at 10:00 a.m. eastern on January 29, 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.
Streaky Flyers Look To Be On The Upswing
When you’ve been watching and betting on hockey for a long time, certain teams develop reputations in your mind. The Devils were once long associated for playing the most boring, defensive-minded hockey in the league, the Penguins were known for being the most exciting team to watch, and I thought of the Flyers as a bunch of goons. Not quite the goons of the Broad Street Bullies era, but still a team that seemed to care more about settling a score on the ice than scoring a goal into the net.
It certainly looks like the Flyers are on their way up right now. Last night’s 3-1 win at home over Winnipeg was Philadelphia’s fourth consecutive victory, and the Flyers have scored a combined total of 19 goals during the streak. When things are going well, the players don’t mind playing another game as quickly as possible, so I’m not that worried about Philadelphia playing its second game in as many nights here. That’s usually a bad situational spot for NHL teams (Philadelphia’s lost 5 of its last 6 games on 0 days rest, by the way), but the travel is minimal from Philly to New York and the psyche of the Flyers right now means playing for the second straight night might even be an advantage.
If there’s one thing about Philadelphia that does concern me tonight, it’s the Flyers’ recent success (or lack of it) on the road. The Flyers have lost 6 of their last 7 trips into enemy territory and are just 9-13-3 on the road overall this season. However, they have enjoyed their last few trips to MSG, winning three straight games in the Rangers’ home.
Rangers Playing Their First Game In 10 Days
While the Flyers are playing for the second straight night, the Rangers really couldn’t be more rested. New York had a few days off before the All-Star Break technically began. In fact, this will be the Rangers’ first game in 10 days, depriving New York the chance to build on a confidence-building 3-2 win in Boston on January 19.
Outside of the long layoff, there’s quite a few things to like about New York tonight. As I mentioned, the Rangers won their last game in Boston, a victory that ran their current winning streak to 3 games and improved them to 4-1 in their last 5. New York has also been a much better team on home ice this year, going 13-6-3-2 in front of the MSG faithful — although the Rangers have lost 7 of their last 10 at home. The Rangers will also get back Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes from injuries, but Mats Zuccarello is expected to remain sidelined.
Philadelphia Flyers/New York Rangers Betting Pick
As is often the case with these NHL Pick of the Week write ups, you’re probably able to already see where I’m going with this one.
Philadelphia and New York are both playing pretty good hockey right now, and I expect each side to bring plenty of confidence to the rink tonight. However, I think the fact that Philadelphia’s already played a game since the All-Star Break while New York players have been twiddling their thumbs for a week and a half gives the Flyers a giant advantage here — one that still isn’t reflected properly in the betting odds, even with the line movement already towards Philadelphia.
Look for the Flyers to win their sixth straight meeting with the Rangers, and for New York to drop to 7-22 in its last 29 games when playing with at least 3 days rest.
For my NHL Pick of the Week, I’m taking the Flyers Moneyline at +102 odds at BetOnline.