The New York Rangers already have done enough this month to show their fans they’ve taken a major step forward in their rebuild. Considering they failed to qualify for the playoffs in three of their previous four seasons, losing in five games in the second round of the NHL playoffs would make this season a bust only to their most demanding fans.
The team doesn’t seem likely to settle for that outcome, though.
Similar to their previous series, when they rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit to oust the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers are fighting back from the brink against the Carolina Hurricanes. They rallied behind a lively Madison Square Garden crowd to beat Carolina 3-1 Sunday afternoon, avoiding a dreaded 3-0 hole in the series.
Even so, Tuesday night’s Game 4 has almost a must-win feel for the Rangers, considering Carolina is 6-0 at home this postseason and two of the final three scheduled games of the series are in their building.
Stanley Cup odds grow longer
The Rangers continue to get practically no respect when it comes to championship odds. They went into the series at +1600 to win the Stanley Cup at PointsBet and +1400 at most of the other mobile New York sportsbooks. They were as high as +1800 at some out-of-state books. Now, after losing two of three to Carolina, they are as high as +2500 at PointsBet to win it all.
Only the St. Louis Blues, who are in a 2-1 hole against the powerful Colorado Avalanche, and the Florida Panthers, who are down 3-0 in their cross-state series vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, have higher championship odds among the eight remaining teams.
Are the Rangers a good play at those odds? One analytics site thinks not. Money Puck, which runs 100,000 computer simulations of the remainder of the NHL season to make its projections, gives the Rangers just a 1% chance of grabbing the Cup, worse odds even than Florida. Considering +2500 equates to a probability of 3.8%, even PointsBet’s seemingly generous odds aren’t appealing in that scenario.
The story is similar when it comes to winning the Eastern Conference (in other words, the next two series), where the Rangers are as high as +900 (at PointsBet) after opening at +600 by consensus. Those odds imply a probability of 10%, and Money Puck gives the Rangers just a 4.3% chance of beating Carolina and (probably) Tampa Bay.
Shopping for good game prices?
The Rangers are slight favorites at home Tuesday at -115 at all the major New York books, which equates to a probability of 53.5% of winning. That, too, is far from a bargain, according to Money Puck, which pegs them as only 48.8% likely to win that game.
Handicapping the over-under totals with these teams has proven challenging, as the first three games of this series have gone under, but the over hit in their last two regular-season head-to-head matchups.
If you’re looking to get a little Rangers action, but are leery of the odds, take a long look at player props when they’re released Tuesday morning. For whatever reason, Chris Kreider has been exceptionally efficient with his minutes in the postseason, having scored six goals and tallied two assists while averaging just over 20 minutes of ice time. Money Puck had his expected goals at four, so it would appear he’s found another gear in the playoffs and may be worth a look for a goal-scorer bet Tuesday, depending on the odds.
For now, the Rangers’ Cup hopes are alive after an inspired win Sunday. Are those hopes alive and well? Money Puck doesn’t think so, but the Rangers can find added motivation in trying to prove those projections and prognostications wrong.
Photo: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY