New York Rangers vs. Minnesota Wild - 12/22/13
Minnesota Wild (20-12-5) at New York Rangers (16-18-2)
NHL Hockey: Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm (Madison Square Garden)
The Line: New York Rangers -110 / Minnesota Wild +100 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
The Wild head into the Big Apple looking for a road victory against a Rangers team who has played poorly at home this season.
Minnesota is a blue collar team to the epitome of the definition as they’re a very physical, defense first type of team that grinds out a lot of its victories and rarely puts on a skills competition. So far this year the strategy has worked very well for them as they sit in 4th place in the Central division with a 20-12-5 mark and are a full 11 points better than the Rangers at this point. The Wild was a team that was expected to compete for the Stanley Cup last year after acquiring Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the offseason and while they qualified for last year’s postseason it was as the eight seed and they were quickly wiped out by the Blackhawks. However, this year the team looks re-energized and seem to have the right focus towards their end goal of a Cup title and I think they will be a tough out for any opponent come playoff time especially if their goaltending continues to play the way it has. Despite a stellar season thus far it looks as though Josh Harding will be on the bench for this one as Nik Backstrom gets the call as he goes up against Henrik Lundqvist for the Blue Shirts.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
New York has been a team in the mix for the Eastern Conference title for the last half decade and while they have always had the talent they haven’t been able to break through and find a winning unit since the 1994 season. This season things have been a little bit more travelled for the Rangers as they aren’t where they’d like to be in the league standings and under new head coach Alain Vigneault they have underachieved quite a bit and you can be sure that management and the fan base will expect more in the season’s second half. New York currently sits two games under .500 good enough for sixth in a very underwhelming Metropolitan division and after their loss to the Isles on Friday night the Rangers find themselves 21 points back of the division leading Penguins. While the Rangers are at home in this one and the Wild have been average at best on the road it makes no sense to me that the Blue Shirts are the favourite here. New York has been atrocious at MSG as their six home wins ranks them third worst in the league and with the style of play the Wild have implemented I think it suits them very well in this spot. I like the Wild as slight road dogs to take this one with comfort.