Jets vs Rangers – NHL Pick for March 6th
Though the NHL playoffs don’t begin for another 5 weeks, it feels like the postseason is already here. Whether it’s battles for positioning or simply to qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament, tight races in both conferences have made points extremely valuable for most teams every night.
That’s why handicapping the mentality and urgency levels of teams down the stretch becomes as important (if not more important) than looking at season-long statistics and recent performances. Intensity, motivation and confidence are intangibles that determine a lot of hockey games, and teams vary greatly in these departments when we’re at this point of the season.
Look no further than tonight’s clash between the Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. A couple of months ago, the betting line on this game may have been close to even, considering Winnipeg’s mediocre record on the road and New York’s successful track record at home. But with the Jets steaming towards a top-3 finish in the Western Conference while the Rangers have already turned their sights towards 2018, Winnipeg is a big favorite to take down the Broadway Blueshirts tonight.
Is there still value with the surging Jets, or are the Rangers a live underdog in this one? Let’s dig a bit deeper into this matchup to see where the smart money is tonight.
Winnipeg Jets/New York Rangers Betting Odds
As mentioned, oddsmakers have made Winnipeg a clear favorite to snag 2 points at MSG. The Jets opened as -140 road chalk at BetOnline, and early action on Winnipeg had driven that line up to -154 by mid-morning. New York pays +139 on the moneyline to surprise the visitors and earn its 4th straight victory.
The Over/Under was set at 6 with -115 juice on the Over and +104 return on the Under. Winnipeg paid +175 on the -1.5 puck line, while you’d have to lay -205 to take the +1.5 with the hosts.
Jets Looking Like Legit Cup Contenders
To say Winnipeg fans have been deprived of Stanley Cup playoff success over the years is a huge understatement. Whether it was the first incarnation of the Jets that moved to Arizona in 1996 or the current edition that relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011, fans in the Manitoba city have not seen their team in the second round of the playoffs since 1987.
However, it’s time to start buying in on the Jets as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. They enter action tonight just 6 points behind Nashville for top spot in the Western Conference, and Winnipeg management made a strong push by dealing several prospects at last week’s deadline to acquire skilled center Paul Stastny, a move that arguably gives Winnipeg the 3 best forward lines in the NHL. A week after making that deal, the Jets are third on BetOnline’s Western Conference championship futures at +600 odds, and their +1200 odds to win the Stanley Cup are tied for the seventh-shortest in the league.
The Jets have won 7 of their last 9 games, averaging close to 5 goals per contest during that stretch. They’ve also picked up their play on the road, winning 3 straight to improve to 15-10-5 away from Bell MTS Place. This is a team that is clearly both confident and motivated going into the stretch drive.
Rangers Playing For Next Year
The picture in New York these days is much different. Although the Rangers are just 5 points behind Columbus for the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, management publicly threw in the towel on the season a couple of weeks ago with an open letter to the fans that promised changes for the future. Then New York was the most active seller at the trade deadline, shipping out core veterans Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh.
Although the current players on the Rangers roster would love nothing more than to prove management and fans wrong by qualifying for Stanley Cup play, this team just doesn’t have the horses. They’ve lost 11 of their last 16 games, and although they just completed a 3-0 western road trip, New York was outshot 143-88 by 3 likely non-playoff teams in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
Speaking of that western road trip, it also sets up a very difficult spot for New York tonight. There’s the potential jet lag from being back in the eastern time zone, plus players returning home from a long trip sometimes take a little bit of time to settle back into their personal lives. Having lost 5 of their last 6 at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers look vulnerable to a slow start tonight that could spell disaster against the dangerous Jets.
Jets vs. Rangers Betting Pick
Winnipeg is obviously the preferred side to back here, but oddsmakers aren’t giving us any bargains by favoring the Jets in this steep price range. To put tonight’s betting line in perspective, Winnipeg has been a road favorite of -150 or higher just 1 other time this season, and that was in a 7- 4 rout of the woeful Sabres in Buffalo.
Fortunately, there are more ways to bet on favorites in the NHL than just the moneyline. The -1.5 puck line is a tempting proposition at +175 return, and I wouldn’t discourage you from trying to go that route here. But to me, the best way to bet this game is to take the Jets on the 3-way moneyline at BetOnline. Winnipeg will have to win the game in regulation time in order to cash our ticket, but it enables us to take the Jets at a much shorter price in a game they should win comfortably.
$100 Stake Wins....