Two teams streaking in the opposite direction meet up in the February 14th Rangers at Blue Jackets free pick. New York has won three in a row while Columbus has dropped three consecutive games as they meet up Friday at Nationwide Arena.
Both teams played on Thursday, and also went to OT which makes things a bit interesting here. Columbus is a -145 favorite, but there should be a lot of public action coming in on the Rangers. The line opened at CLB -130.
New York Comes in Streaking
Thursday was a big night for Mika Zibanejad as he scored with 1:06 left in regulation to tie Minnesota and also converted in the SO. That gave the Rangers their 3rd straight win. A victory in the February 14th Rangers at Blue Jackets free pick would inch New York closer to a possible playoff berth as they currently sit 9 points back from Columbus in the wild card.
New York has won three straight, but Friday also marks their 3rd road game in 4 nights. New York has gone 5-2 in their last 7 on 0 days rest however. The total for Friday’s game is just 5.5, interesting as the Rangers have netted 4+ goals in 4 of the last 5.
It’s cloudy who is going to be In net for both squads as they come off the back-to-back. Alexandar Georgiev went on Thursday vs. the Wild, stopping 23 of 26 Minnesota shots in the win. Rookie Igor Shesterkin is 6-1 since his debut, but is also battling a sore ankle. That would leave Henrik Lundqvist and a wager on the over as he has allowed 4+ goals in 3 of 4 starts.
Columbus Needs a Win – Now
The Blue Jackets were one of the best teams in the league since early December. It’s a good thing too as despite Columbus’ 4-game losing streak they still hold on to the top wild card spot in the East.
It’s not like the Blue Jackets have been completely getting blown out though as their last two losses were both in OT. 2 of the 3 defeats have also been to potential playoff teams in Colorado and Tampa Bay. Friday’s meeting will also be the 5th home game over the last 6 for Columbus, whereas New York will be on the road for the 3rd time in 4 nights.
Despite the back-to-back, Columbus did do a little strategic planning by starting Matiss Kivlenieks on Thursday vs. Buffalo. That leaves Elvis Merzlikins to go vs. the Rangers. The rookie has been great with an 8-1-1 record over his last 10 while posting a 2.19 GAA on the season. Merzlikins has allowed 4 goals total over his last 4 appearances.
February 14th Blue Jackets at Rangers Free Pick
It’s hard to back a side here with both teams on the back-to-back. The value is definitely on the Rangers at +130 as they are riding a 3-game win streak but New York does have some questions in net. That uncertainty between the pipes for the Rangers – but with New York’s solid offense (even on tired legs) makes this one a total play.
Pick: Rangers / Blue Jackets *Over* 5.5