Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#75 N.Y. Rangers 5.5 vs.
#76 Columbus Blue Jackets -150
Friday, February 14, 2020 at 7:05pm EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus
Written by Chris Kubala

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A pair of Metropolitan Division teams take the ice in the Buckeye State looking to pick up a victory. The New York Rangers are on the road as they travel to face the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night. New York was on the road Thursday night as they faced the Wild, prevailing 4-3 in a shootout. Columbus was upended 4-3 in overtime on the road by Buffalo Thursday night in their previous contest. The Blue Jackets have won seven of the last 10 meetings coming into this one, including a 2-1 road win in the most recent meeting on January 19.

New York Rangers Playing Second Game of Back to Back

New York battled in Minnesota Thursday night and now has to travel into Columbus for a tough divisional matchup. The Rangers went into Thursday’s action seventh in the Metropolitan Division, 10 points behind the Islanders, who held the final guaranteed playoff spot, and 17 back of the Capitals for the division lead. In the wild card race, they were nine points behind the Flyers for the second wild-card spot. New York is solid offensively this season as they average 3.29 goals per contest. The Rangers have had defensive zone issues as they allow 3.13 goals per game. New York is very effective with the man advantage as they convert 23.9 percent of their chances on the power play. The Rangers would like to improve in the the penalty killing department as they successfully navigate 78.6 percent of their shorthanded situations.

Against the Wild, regulation and overtime weren’t enough as the Rangers needed a shootout to pick up the victory. In the opening period, New York was outshot 11-8 and outscored 2-1 to head to the dressing room on the short end of the scoreboard. After falling behind 1-0, Artemi Panarin knotted the score with his 29th goal of the year at 11:52 with the assists going to Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome. The Rangers gave up the go-ahead goal later in the period. In the second period, the shots favored New York 10-6 but Minnesota netted the lone goal, leaving the visitors down 3-1 after two periods. The final period saw the Rangers with a 10-6 edge in shots and a 2-0 advantage on the scoreboard to tie things up. Pavel Buchnevich got New York within a goal with his 12th of the year, unassisted, at 11:51 to make it a 3-2 game. Mika Zibanejad got the equalizer at 18:54 with his 24th of the year off assists from Panarin and Adam Fox. Both teams had three shots on goal in overtime with no one lighting the lamp. In the shootout, Zibanejad and Panarin each struck while the Wild misfired on their two attempts to seal the win. Alexander Georgiev made 23 saves for the Rangers, who held a 31-26 edge in shots on goal, in the win. Henrik Lundqvist could be in line to get the start in net here.

Columbus Blue Jackets Try to Regroup

Columbus suffered their third straight loss as they fell in overtime to Buffalo in their last contest. The Blue Jackets entered Thursday’s action fourth in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the Islanders for the final guaranteed playoff spot, and stood eight points behind Washington for the top spot. In the wild card race, the team held the first wild card position and stood four points clear of Carolina, the first team out of the playoff picture. Columbus is struggling to light the lamp as they average 2.60 goals per game this season. The Blue Jackets are extremely stingy in their own end as they allow 2.40 goals per contest this year. Columbus is struggling on the power play as they convert 16.6 percent of their chances with the man advantage. The Blue Jackets have been decent in shorthanded situations as they get through 83.2 percent of those situations this year.

In the loss to the Sabres, the Blue Jackets rallied to force overtime but ended up giving up the winning goal in the extra session. Columbus held a 10-8 edge in shots on goal in the opening period and skated off with a 1-0 lead. Nathan Gerbe scored his fourth of the year at 19:32 off assists from Vladislav Gavrikov and Riley Nash to open the scoring. The second period saw the Blue Jackets with an 11-7 edge in shots on goal with both teams scoring once to leave Columbus with a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. Boone Jenner made it a 2-0 game with his 10th of the year at 1:31 off assists from Zach Werenski and Liam Foudy. Buffalo got on the board later in the period to halve the lead. In the third period, Columbus was outshot 9-8 and outscored 2-1 to send the game to overtime. After giving up a pair of goals to trail 3-2, Markus Nutivaara knotted the game with his third of the year at 18:47 off assists from Marcus Foligno and Oliver Bjorkstrand. In overtime, Columbus was outshot 3-2 and gave up the winning goal to take the OT loss. Matiss Kivlenieks made 23 saves for the Blue Jackets, who held a 31-27 edge in shots on goal, in the loss. Elvis Merzlikins is expected to get the start in goal here.

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The Blue Jackets have picked up at least one point in 26 of their last 29 games coming into this contest. Columbus is at home here, which has been a positive for them this season. Merzlikins likely gets the start in goal again here after Kivlenieks got the start on Thursday night. New York scratched out a win over the Wild in a shootout and has been solid of late. The problem for the Rangers is that they are inconsistent on the road and have been trying to juggle three goaltenders in Lundqvist, Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin, which is tough to do. Columbus is better defensively and they limit the Rangers to win a low-scoring game.

Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets -133

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New York comes into the game 13-11-2 on the road this season. The Rangers have been outscored by four goals (83-79) in those contests while being outshot by 129 (890-761) as the visiting team this season. That gives the average Rangers road game holding a total of 6.23 goals per game. Columbus is 18-10-3 at home this season. The Blue Jackets own a +17 goal differential (81-64) and a +126 shot differential (992-866) this season on home ice. That gives Columbus an average total of 4.68 goals per game on home ice this season. Look for the Blue Jackets to play tough in their own zone, keeping this one under the total.

Prediction: Under 5.5

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New York has held the lead after one period nine times in their 26 road games this season. By comparison, the Rangers have trailed on 11 occasions while being tied in six games this year. Columbus has held the lead at home 10 times after one period this season. The Blue Jackets have been tied on 12 occasions and trailed in nine games after 20 minutes on home ice. While the percentages are pretty even, the fact that Columbus has been at least even more than two-thirds of the time, plus their defensive zone play, gives them a slight edge here.

Prediction: 1st Period Columbus Blue Jackets

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New York enters this game having been outscored by seven goals (32-25) and outshot by 96 (330-234) in the first period on the road this season after Thursday's win. That creates an average of 2.19 goals per game in the first period when the Rangers are the visiting team this season. Columbus has a +1 goal differential (24-23) and a +19 shot differential (316-297) on home ice in the first period this season. That creates an average first period total of 1.52 goals per game when the Blue Jackets are the hosts. With both teams playing the second game of a back to back here, coupled with Columbus's tough defense, this one falls short of the mark after one period.

Prediction: 1st Period Under
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.