The Columbus Blue Jackets (4-2-0) have been solid out of the gate, and will start a three-game road trip against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
Elvis Merzlikins (4-0-0, 1.48 GAA, .952 SV%) has been strong in net for the Blue Jackets and should be in net against the Rangers. Merzlikins has still not allowed more than two goals in any start this season.
New York (4-2-1) is looking for their first win on home ice after picking up a four-game sweep on the road then getting dumped by the Calgary Flames, 5-1 at home on Monday.
Igor Shesterkin (3-1-1, 2.17 GAA, .933 SV%) allowed all five of those goals against the Flames on Monday, but will look to rebound tonight against Columbus.
Here are the odds for this matchup, courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook.
Blue Jackets vs. Rangers Odds and Total
- Blue Jackets +158
- Rangers -178
- Blue Jackets +1.5 (-165)
- Rangers -1.5 (+145)
Total: 5.5 (Over -105/Under -115)
Blue Jackets vs. Rangers Prediction and Pick
Merzlikins was decent for the Blue Jackets in net last season, but his numbers have been “Vezina-caliber” in the early part of this season and I don’t believe it’s sustainable. Those numbers should negatively regress back to the mean.
Also, the Rangers’ offense has been too quiet. Averaging just 2.1 goals per game with an 11.5 percent power play percentage is just too low of an offensive output for a team like New York. Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin has just one goal, three assists, and four points in the first seven games; he’s got too much talent to be playing this quiet.
Both New York and Columbus sit 30th and 31st, respectively, in shots on goal. If that trend continues, this could be a low scoring affair.
I’m banking on Merzlikins to fall back and the Rangers offense to step up tonight.
I’m taking the Rangers on the puck line at -1.5 (+145).