Canucks and Rangers top NHL odds slate

By: Barry Daniels | Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo picked up his 20th win Tuesday night at the Islanders.

The Vancouver Canucks will bring their league-leading 62 points into Madison Square Garden for a Thursday showdown with a New York Rangers squad that has seen the ‘under’ cash in seven straight outings.

This will be Vancouver’s second stop on a five-game road excursion, with the puck dropping at 4:05 p.m. (PT).

Vancouver’s trip started Tuesday with a 4-3 shootout victory as 225 road favorites against the New York Islanders. The win was Vancouver’s ninth in its last 10 games and raised its road ledger to a sparkling 13-5-2-1. The club is outscoring the opposition on the road by an average of 3.24 to 2.52.

Vancouver has now registered at least one point in 17 straight games, going 14-0-3 during that span.

The combined seven goals skipped above the 5 ½-goal closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 21-20 in the Canucks’ first 41 outings and 11-10 in their initial 21 road dates.

Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa scored for the Canucks in regulation against the Islanders. Roberto Luongo made 38 saves to register the win and raise his ledger to 20-8-1-3. He also has a sizzling 2.34 GAA, a .922 save percentage and two shutouts.

The Canucks have now amassed three goals or more in eight of their last 10 contests. The outburst has moved Vancouver’s offense into the No. 2 spot in the league at 3.4 goals per game. Most of that success can be attributed to the league’s second-best power play that is clicking at a 24.7 percent success rate.

But the Canucks are not just out-slugging their opponents. The defense has also been stellar. That is evidenced by Vancouver yielding just 2.4 GPG, which ranks fifth. The Canucks’ penalty killing unit ranks fourth, with an 85.1 percent success rate when they are shorthanded.

The New York Rangers had their three-game winning streak snapped during Tuesday’s 2-1 loss against the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers closed as 130 home favorites and saw their home ledger slip to an unimpressive 10-9-1-1. They are outscoring the opposition at Madison Square Garden by a slim average of 2.95 to 2.48.

The combined three goals in the Montreal game enabled the ‘under’ to cash in New York’s last seven contests. The Rangers have not scored or yielded more than two goals in six of those seven attempts. The ‘under’ is now 27-16 in New York’s first 43 efforts, but just 11-9 in its first 20 home encounters.

The low-scoring affairs have influenced New York’s offensive and defensive rankings. The Rangers are 13th in the league offensively, averaging 2.8 goals per game. They are allowing an average of 2.5 GPG, which is the league’s sixth best mark.

Most of the stellar defense can be attributed to netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who is 18-13-2-1 with a nifty 2.32 GAA and a .924 save percentage. He also has five shutouts, which ranks fifth among goalies. Lundqvist is 11-5-2 with a 1.81 goals against average and .938 save percentage since Thanksgiving.

Wojtek Wolski, who was acquired by the Rangers from Phoenix earlier this week, almost was the hero against the Habs. Wolski's shot from the left side with just under three minutes left in regulation beat Montreak goalie Alex Auld, but hit the near post. When the puck bounced into the crease, the Canadiens were able to clear it away and preserve the one goal victory.

The Rangers hit the road Saturday for a quick rematch with the Canadiens. The Canucks continue their five-game road excursion Friday with a stop in Washington to play the Capitals.

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