Posted on: February 20, 2023, 12:20h.
Last updated on: February 20, 2023, 12:20h.
Every New York Rangers fan in the New York metropolitan area was ecstatic last year on the third night of June. That’s after the Blueshirts went up 2-0 on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals, giving everyone a breather — or so they thought — after a pair of seven-game epics against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes.
And then the roof fell in: Four straight losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning to end the season.
Those four straight losses put the Lightning back into the Stanley Cup finals for the third consecutive year, and the Rangers Cup drought stretched to 28 years. That is a lifetime in the National Hockey League. But now the Rangers have made a couple of trades that represent a lifeline.
And they’ve done it with the sportsbooks keeping their odds of winning the Metropolitan Division unusually high. With just under two months left in the regular season, the Rangers trail the Carolina Hurricanes by seven points and the New Jersey Devils by four points. But New York strung together seven straight victories before salvaging a single point with an overtime loss at Calgary on Saturday to cap a four-game road trip.
What is Fueling the Rangers’ Surge?
Alexis Lafreniere, their first-round pick in 2020, scored the game-tying tally with 7:12 left in regulation Saturday night to help force overtime. He also recorded a crucial third-period tally and the shootout winner against the Oilers Friday night. Lafreniere recorded points in six of his last seven games, as well as 10 of his last 11, with linemates Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil controlling the offensive zone.
TIE GAME. pic.twitter.com/ko4LtiiFFL
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 19, 2023
“He’s been unbelievable,” Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren told reporters. “He’s been great, obviously providing offense and getting big goals. He’s doing just as good in the D zone, blocking shots. He’s a competitor, wants to win, and he’s been outstanding the whole year.”
Now, the Rangers have gone out and traded for penalty-killing specialist Tyler Motte for the second straight year, bringing back a key glue guy. Motte had two goals in the 2022 playoffs after being acquired by the Rangers last March from Vancouver.
Catching the Hurricanes will be difficult, but not impossible.
Here are the Rangers’ odds of winning the Metropolitan Division at New York’s nine licensed sportsbooks:
- DraftKings: +1200.
- FanDuel: +1000.
- BetMGM: +1100.
- Caesars: Unavailable, but +1100 to win the Stanley Cup.
- BetRivers: Unavailable.
- WynnBet: Unavailable, but +1200 to win Stanley Cup.
- ResortsWorld: +1000.
- PointsBet: +1000.
- BallyBet: Unavailable.
All of the sportsbooks in New York have the Rangers ranked as a top-eight team, and there should be a ton of player movement over the next 11 days as the trading deadline nears. The NHL typically is hyperactive around the deadline, especially compared to the other three major US sports. Yes, even the NBA, where Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving can be dealt out of Brooklyn just days apart.
Last year, there were 28 deals made on trade deadline day, March 21, and another 15 in the preceding three days. It is a good bet that the company providing cellular service to NHL general managers will have a strong billing cycle by the time this year’s deals have all gone down.
The Boston Bruins (42-8-5) are the class of the league, and there are 13 Eastern Conference teams and 10 Western Conference teams with winning records. Perennial major market contenders the Montreal Canadiens, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Chicago Blackhawks are all far out of the running, and that should create fire sale conditions by the March 3 trade deadline. The Toronto Maple Leafs gave up three draft picks and two top prospects in acquiring Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues. Could this guy be plucked out of the Windy City?
Patrick Kane scored the ninth hat trick of his career and moved into a tie with Steve Larmer for the fourth most in @NHLBlackhawks history. The only skaters with more are Bobby Hull (28), Stan Mikita (16) and Denis Savard (11).#NHLStats: https://t.co/C4NXBUIuCi pic.twitter.com/l609dJNm2F
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 20, 2023
The Rangers have already made trades this season for Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from St. Louis. Their rivals, the New York Islanders, made a major move two weeks ago in acquiring Bo Horvat from Vancouver.
Never since the league doubled in size to 12 teams and split into conferences in 1967-68 has one conference had teams with the league’s six best records. But that is the case as this week begins, the Rangers playing host to the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden tonight.
1994 was the last time New York won the Stanley Cup. But the Rangers have a rich hockey history that included a championship culture back when Madison Square Garden was located in a different location, on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th streets.
— Tom’s Old Days (@sigg20) February 16, 2023
The Rangers played for the Stanley Cup in 1928, 1929, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1940, 1950, 1972, 1979, 1994 and 2014. Only the Canadiens, Red Wings, Maple Leafs, Bruins and Blackhawks have made more appearances in the finals.
The hockey subculture in New York is stronger than out-of-towners might expect, and hockey fans can gamble with the best of them. Many of them are cops and firemen, and those folks gamble with their lives every day. If there is anything wager-worthy for a Rangers fan, why not winning the division? The odds make it worth it, because they are almost exactly the same as the odds of winning a title. New York has already defeated Carolina twice, and the Rangers get the Hurricanes two more times. One win clinches the tiebreaker; two wins moves them four points closer.
And that is why savvy Rangers gamblers have to catch the books napping on this one.