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New York Rangers at Minnesota Wild
When and Where: Saturday, March 16, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn., 8 p.m. EST.
Desperate to end a slump that could derail their playoff chances, the Minnesota Wild look to ignite their offense Saturday night when they host the New York Rangers.
Rangers out to play spoiler playing out string
New York (28-30-13) will miss out on the playoffs for the second straight year as the rebuild has formally begun with first-year coach David Quinn. The Rangers are trying to salvage something from a four-game road trip and were overrun 5-1 at Calgary on Friday night.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 16, 2019
The Rangers have just one win in their last 10 games (1-4-5). They have struggled on the power play, going 1 for 30 in their last nine games after failing to convert on three chances in Calgary.
Additionally, playing on back-to-back nights has not done the young Rangers any favors. They are 1-3-4 on the back end of such instances and winless in the last five (0-2-3). New York’s lone victory came in a shootout, and five of the eight games have been decided in overtime or via shootout.
With Alexandar Georgiev stopping 27 of 32 shots in Friday night’s loss, Henrik Lundqvist is expected to get the call in this game. Barring a late run of success, the veteran goaltender will finish with a career low in wins and still needs two more for his 14th 20-win season in as many years in the league.
Lundqvist is 2-6-3 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in his last 11 starts and also 0-1-2 in his last three on the road. He was on the short end of a 4-1 home loss to Minnesota on Feb. 21, making 31 saves. Lundqvist is 6-5-0 with a 3.04 GAA in 12 lifetime starts versus the Wild, including 2-3-0 mark and 3.32 GAA in St. Paul.
Wild need goals to get back in contention
Minnesota (33-30-8) is on the outside looking in on the Western Conference wild-card race, entering play Friday night three points behind Arizona for the second wild-card spot with 11 games remaining.
The Wild, though, have picked an inopportune time to have their offense falter as they seek just their second win in 11 home games. They have lost three straight games — scoring three goals in those defeats — and have one win in their last six overall (1-3-2) after a 4-1 loss to Dallas on Thursday night. Some of that defeat was running into a torrid goaltender in Ben Bishop, who left in the second period with an injury, but Jason Zucker‘s power-play goal in the second period stood as Minnesota’s lone marker.
"Tomorrow night is, obviously, the biggest game of the year for us. We have to go into it ready to go and be ready to perform." — Ryan Suter pic.twitter.com/F5aAuNQDMz
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) March 15, 2019
Leading goal-scorer Zach Parise has gone without one in nine games after Thursday’s loss and has just one in his last 12 overall. Parise’s last goal came in Minnesota’s 4-1 win over the Rangers last month, and he added an assist. Parise, who has extensive experience playing the Rangers from his days with the New Jersey Devils, has 17 goals and 41 points in 53 career matchups.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has not officially named a starter, but he is expected to continue riding Devan Dubnyk for the stretch drive. Dubnyk stopped 27 of 30 shots in the loss to the Stars and has allowed three or more goals in four of his last five starts after yielding two or fewer in his previous five.
Dubnyk made 33 saves in the win at Madison Square Garden last month, extending his personal winning streak over the Rangers to three starts. He is 4-3-0 lifetime versus New York but has a solid 2.16 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in those seven starts.
The Wild are:
- 4-1 in their last five games vs. the Rangers.
- 37-16 in their last 53 home games as favorites of -201 or greater.
- 5-2 in their last seven Saturday games.
- The over is 11-2 in their last 13 games as favorites of -201 or greater.
- The over is 16-6-6 in their last 28 games as home favorites of -201 or greater.
- The over is 4-1-1 in their last six Saturday games.
The Rangers are:
- 1-4 in their last five games as road underdogs between +151 to +200.
- 0-5 in their last five games playing on zero days of rest.
- 3-13 in their last 16 road games vs. teams with a sub-.500 home record.
- The over is 7-1 in their last eight games playing on zero days of rest.
- The over is 12-4 in their last 16 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 situation.
- The over is 13-5 in their last 18 games as road underdogs between +150 to +200.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Simply put, this is a game the Wild cannot afford to lose, and even with their recent struggles at the Xcel Energy Center, they should have enough to deal with a Rangers team not only playing on back-to-back nights but likely eager to get back home as they wrap up their road trip. Minnesota has to find a way to get Parise going to get its offense on track, and New York’s high-forechecking style could be the perfect conduit.
Prediction: Pick: Wild -215
Full-Game Total Pick
This pick is more about the Rangers inability to defend consistently on the back end of games on consecutive nights than it is believing the Wild will break out offensively — though that would be an immense help. New York has played to seven or more goals in seven of the eight games it has played on the back end of consecutive nights, and four of those contests have registered eight or more goals.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 5.5 goals
Full-Game Prop Bet
A somewhat risky pick given the Wild have scored two or fewer in their last six home games, but with the Rangers reeling on this road trip and taking the over, the expectation is Minnesota rediscovers its offensive mojo with at least a four-spot in this game.
Prediction: Pick: Wild OVER 3.5 goals
Half-Time Side Pick
Neither team is an especially good first-period team — the Rangers are a net minus-5 with 57 goals and the Wild minus-12 with 52. Additionally, Minnesota has scored just three first-period goals in its last nine games. The Rangers, though, have allowed 11 in the opening 20 minutes of their last 10 contests. A deadlock feels like the most likely outcome, and grabbing the half-goal is a solid play.
Prediction: Pick: Rangers +0.5 goals (-165)
Half-Time Total Bet
With the aforementioned belief in a deadlock expected at the first intermission horn, the more likely outcome is 1-1 as opposed to 0-0 given New York’s struggles on the back end of games on consecutive nights.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 1.5 goals