NHL Betting Preview: NY Rangers at Sharks

By: David Schwab | Friday, March 11, 2011

New York heads to San Jose off Wednesday night’s loss in Anaheim.

The New York Rangers wrap up a quick two-game West Coast swing this Saturday night when they tangle with the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast locally on Comcast.

New York continues to battle for its postseason life as it is currently clinging to a two-point lead over Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers followed up a dominating 7-0 victory over Philadelphia last Sunday as a 119 home favorite with a sluggish 5-2 loss to Anaheim as a slight 102 road favorite this past Wednesday night.

They have won just twice in their last six outings and with only 13 games left to play the regular season need as many wins a possible in hopes of extending their season. Heading into Saturday’s game, New York was 35-30-4 straight-up (35-34 against the spread). It is tied with Buffalo in the East with a total of 74 points, but the Sabres have two games in hand.

The Rangers have a solid core of players that can put the puck in the net led by centers’ Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Doyle and right winger Ryan Callahan. All three have scored 20 goals this year and Dubinsky leads the team with 45 points. New York is ranked 17th in the NHL in scoring, averaging 2.72 goals a game.

Defense remains the strong suit of this team behind the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has a goals-against-average of 2.34 and a save percentage of .921 in 54 starts this season. The Rangers are giving up an average of just 2.42 goals a game, which is tied for sixth-best in the league.

San Jose’s playoff position is much more secure with a four-point lead over Phoenix in the Pacific Division standings and the third-most points in the Western Conference. It is coming off a dramatic 5-4 OT shootout loss to Vancouver as a 117 home favorite in what could very well have been of preview of this year’s Conference Finals. The Sharks are 8-1-1 SU in their last 10 games and 39-22-7 SU overall (30-38 ATS).

San Jose remains one of the more prolific scoring teams in the league with an average of 2.75 goals a game. It boasts a number of sharpshooters with four players scoring 20 or more goals led by left winger Patrick Marleau’s team-high 27. Center Joe Thornton has 40 assists and his 56 points ties him with Dany Heatley as the team’s top two point scorers.

Antti Niemi has started 47 of the Sharks 68 games this season and is expected to be in net for this one. He has a GGA of 2.41 and a .918 save percentage, putting him near the top of the league in both categories. San Jose is giving up an average of 2.52 goals a game, ranking it ninth in the NHL.

One injury note to be aware of is that defenseman Dan Boyle remains day-to-day after missing Thursday’s game with an upper body injury.

New York is 15-16 as a favorite and is over .500 on the money line as an underdog at 20-18. The total is 2-3-1 in its last six games and has stayed ‘under’ in 55 percent of its games.

San Jose is 28-20 as a favorite and 11-8 as an underdog. The 'under' is 3-1-1 in the last five games and has slightly favored the ‘under’ over the course of the season.

The Sharks should open as a healthy favorite on the money line and remain a solid pick against a Rangers’ team that is struggling to play with any kind of consistency, especially on the road where it is 3-5 SU in its last eight games.

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