For those of you who follow us on Twitter (@Covers), you saw that I attended the New York Rangers-Boston Bruins game in Boston Saturday night, which the B’s took 3-1 as -135 favorites.
The rematch goes tonight. To help you handicap it, here are some observations from Saturday, along with a couple of other relevant NHL notes:
Odds: Boston (+110) vs. New York Rangers (-120), O/U 5
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET, Madison Square Garden
- Early money pushed this line down to -120 as of noon ET Wednesday after opening at around -135 at most books.
- The Rangers couldn’t get out of their end in the first period. They were outshot 14-7, but it felt more like 20-2. Tells me that first period lines are worth a look for teams making their home debuts, even though you’ll be looking at some chalk (Pittsburgh, San Jose and Anaheim are the only three teams yet to play a home game heading into Wednesday).
- The second period was more balanced with a couple of solid scraps about seven minutes into the period just three seconds apart (Scott Thornton vs. Michael Rupp and Gregory Campbell vs. Stu Bickel). New York coach John Tortorella isn’t afraid to use fighting to help shift the physical balance of a game, which the Rangers were definitely losing to that point.
- With that in mind, Boston played another hard-hitting game against Winnipeg Monday (2-1 shootout win) and it will be interesting to see how they hold up with three very physical games in five nights. They’ll face a surly New York squad that also lost its home opener 6-3 to Pittsburgh Sunday.
- If things get nasty tonight, the power plays weren’t much to look at Saturday. The teams combined to go 0-for-12 on the PP and the Bruins are now 0-for-9 through two games. Boston has also killed all nine power plays against though, while the Rangers gave up two power-play goals against Pittsburgh in a 6-3 defeat Sunday.
- Preseason Vezina favorite Henrik Lundqvist was as shaky as you’ll ever see him. He fought the puck most of the night and Boston’s third goal that sealed the game was a groaner. He was pulled versus Pittsburgh after allowing four goals on 18 shots - the first time he’s been pulled since October 2011 according to CSN New England.
- Tuukka Rask on the other hand looked solid in nets for the Bruins. He can thank great team defense for that too.
- Overall, New York looked like a flat team that has yet to jell. New acquisition Rick Nash has two points in two games, but the team needs to find some chemistry in a hurry. Tortorella told reporters Tuesday: "The only thing we should focus on is our mindset... that's what needs to be corrected right now."
- Home teams are 15-16-0-4 overall in the NHL so far and home faves are just 12-10-0-2 SU (50 percent).
- Keep in mind that four percent of the season is gone for these teams. I'll be surprised if the Rangers aren't at playoff-intensity level tonight. That won't be lost on the Bruins either, who know how much a 3-0 start would mean in this shortened season.