Why Sportsbooks Don’t Want The Rangers To Win The Stanley Cup

Underdog status and location in sports betting-crazed New York make the team a liability

The New York Rangers have turned into a serious liability for mobile sportsbooks in their home state and beyond.

The Rangers opened the season at +2200 to win the Cup (at DraftKings), went into the playoffs as the No. 7 choice at +1600, and have dropped to +600 after winning playoff series. That, plus the usual massive volume of action that comes from New York bettors, have the books hoping the blueshirts trip up either against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team they play Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, or against the winner of the Edmonton-Colorado series out west.

The Rangers’ propensity to fall behind in these playoff series has also been a part of the story, as their odds have spiked when they get in trouble, offering major opportunities for their fans to jump on board at rewarding odds.

“All of that is true, plus expectations were high for the Rangers after starting the season so well,” said Johnny Avello, DraftKings’ director of race and sportsbook operations. “Their odds were still 30-to-1 in the Hurricanes series after being down 2-0.”

The Rangers wound up rallying from that hole to beat the Hurricanes in seven games, culminating with Monday’s 6-2 win.

According to a DraftKings source, the Rangers and Oilers pose roughly the same liability to the sportsbook, while the Avalanche are a minor liability. That means, presumably, that the book is rooting hard for the Lightning, who are trying to win their third Stanley Cup in a row.

Rangers remain underdogs

The Rangers are relatively big underdogs in the Tampa Bay series, similar to their position against Carolina. At BetMGM, for example, the Rangers are +150 to reach the finals, while the Lightning are -185.

The Rangers are even underdogs at home on Wednesday. The best odds in New York are at DraftKings and PointsBET, where they are +110 with Tampa at -130. The puck line, which grants the Rangers a goal-and-a-half, puts them at -250 at all state books aside from FanDuel, which is offering them at -245. On the other side of the puck line, if you’re ultra-confident the Rangers can win by two goals, you can get +275 at DraftKings.

Scrutiny of the goaltenders

One aspect of the series that will be heavily scrutinized is the goal total for each game, since this series features two of the best goaltenders in the world in the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin and the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy. The total for Wednesday is set low at 5.5, and under players have to lay extra juice — -125 at most New York books and -130 at FanDuel.

As for how many saves each netminder will make in Wednesday night’s game, DraftKings has set Vasilevskiy’s total at 26.5, with the over at -125 odds and the under at even money. Shesterkin’s total is set at 28.5, probably because the Rangers don’t have quite the defense Vasilevskiy enjoys, with the over at -115 and the under at -110.

A lot of the action in this series figures to be around the nets, and it’s pretty safe to assume that Avello and other bookmakers will be nervously eying the area around Vasilevskiy’s goal.

Photo: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY


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