John Tortorella and the Vancouver Canucks continue the Eastern swing Saturday in familiar territory as the former Rangers coach takes on his old team in the Big Apple
The first of our weekend hockey picks lost Friday when the Oilers scored a late power play goal to edge “Over” 5.5 in a 4-2 Jackets win. The Pick Sixty Sports record for NHL picks and Best Bets this year is now 10-6 and we’ll look to rebound Saturday.
The byline for this game has almost taken over the actual importance of the two points. John Tortorella vs. Alain Vigneault, two highly touted NHL coaches swapped teams and conferences during the off-season and today they lock horns in Madison Square Garden. Almost sounds like a fight card and you can bet one or two of those will break out but if we break it down to nitty grit, each of these teams needs these two points to try and gain some stability in their respective divisions.
New York started the season with nine-straight road games and struggled in the western portion going 1-4 but as they started to make the long voyage home, New York earned victories against the Capitals and Red Wings. Each of those teams are playoff contenders if the season ended today and it showed promise that once the Rangers schedule regained some normalcy, they could potentially boost their record above .500.
The Ranger lost their home debut to the Canadiens but since then they are 10-6, outscoring the opposition 2.5 to 1.8. New York recently lost a pair of one-goal games to rival Boston and they were lit up by the Lightning 5-0 but today marks the start of a 12-game stretch where the Rangers will play 11 home games. Make no mistake, this is one of the biggest games on New York’s calendar but they are listed as small home dogs for a reason. The common line at sports betting sites is Vancouver -115.
Vancouver thumped Ottawa 5-2 in their first of their current four-game tour and need to build on that win after failing to capitalize on the previous six-game homestand (1-3-2). The Canucks gave up seven third period/OT/SO goals in those six games and Torts has made it clear to his club that a lack of intensity late in games will not be tolerated. The early time slot might be a slight disadvantage for Vancouver but they feel wronged from some of the unlucky bounces of late and facing their old coach, should have no problem adjusting to a fast pace once the puck drops. In a close game we are backing the road team to come out ahead.
Pick: Take the Canucks -115 (1.5 units)