This article is part of our NHL Picks series.
Stanley Cup Bets for May 1: Expert NHL Picks and Props for Rangers vs. Devils
The New York Rangers finally figured out how to win on home ice in Game 6, staving off elimination to force a decisive Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
With their backs against the wall in Game 6, down 3-2 in the series after three consecutive losses, the Rangers offense finally came alive.
Curtis Lazar actually opened the scoring at 11:49 of the first period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead. Madison Square Garden was unusually quiet, but then Chris Kreider struck on the power play with just 25 ticks remaining in the opening period to get the crowd back at full throat.
In the second period, Mika Zibanejad picked up his first goal of the series at 10:10, while Vladimir Tarasenko struck for the third time in the series. Kreider helped out, and Adam Fox posted his second helper of the game and eighth of the series.
The Rangers kept their foot on the gas in the third, as Barclay Goodrow struck for his first of the series, while Jimmy Vesey added an apple for his first point of the series. Braden Schneider also added a goal at 12:28 of the third, his first-ever NHL playoff goal with assists from Niko Mikkola and Filip Chytil.
Dawson Mercer got on track with a power-play goal at 15:12 of the third but it wasn't nearly enough. Mercer has two goals and three points in the past two games after getting blanked in the first four outings of the series.
Timo Meier, arguably the biggest addition at the NHL trade deadline, was scoreless with a minus-2 rating and six shots on goal. The 26-year-old Swiss-born forward has gone without a point in each of his six playoff games with a minus-3 rating and an uncharacteristic 20 penalty minutes (PIM).
After rookie Akira Schmid went 3-0 record with a minuscule 0.63 GAA and .976 save percentage in his first three playoff starts in Games 3 through 5, he was crushed for five goals on 29 shots to crash back to Earth.
Igor Shesterkin was finally given some much-needed offensive support. He kicked aside 34 of the 36 shots he faced, improving to 3-3 with a 1.79 GAA and .939 save percentage in six games in this series so far.
I think experience and consistency mean a lot in this matchup, especially in the crease. Shesterkin has it while Schmid, or Vitek Vanecek if head coach Lindy Ruff goes back to him, does not have extensive postseason experience. That will be the difference. We saw it in Florida vs. Boston, with Sergei Bobrovsky outdueling Jeremy Swayman in their Game 7, and Philipp Grubauer outlasting the inexperienced Alexandar Georgiev in their decisive Game 7. The same will hold true in this series, too, with the road team with the experienced backstop coming through.
NHL Money Line Bets for Rangers vs. Devils
- Rangers ML (+100 at BetMGM)
We get a third Game 7 in the past two days. In Sunday's pair of decisive Game 7s, we saw the Over and Under cash. The Eastern Conference battle saw an Over result, while the Under hit in the Western Conference battle.
In this series, we had an Over in Game 6 after three consecutive Under results. That's because the offense finally came alive for the Blueshirts. New York had just two goals in three games from Games 4 through 6 before breaking out for five markers.
In the three games in Newark, we've had two Over results, although the most recent battle in Game 5 on Thursday ended up going low.
The Under is still 8-3-1 in the past 12 road games for the Rangers, while going 11-5-1 in the past 16 against winning teams.
I think we're going to get some nerves, especially on the New Jersey side, as the Rangers have a little more postseason experience. Still, we should get the total to go Under in this decisive Game 7.
NHL Totals Bets for Rangers vs. Devils
- Under 5.5 (-122 at FanDuel)
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NHL Player Props for Rangers vs. Devils
As far as the NHL player props for Game 7 are concerned, we have a handful of solid potential plays.
We saw Kreider strike for a power-play goal in Game 6, and he added two assists. He has managed six goals and nine points in the six games to date, including five power-play goals and a pair of game-winning tallies. No one has been hotter for the Blueshirts, and you might as well keep striking while the iron is hot. He has scored at least one goal in four of the six games, and he has four goals in three games at Prudential Center in this series.
- Chris Kreider Anytime Goal Scorer (+175 at BetMGM)
For the Devils, Jesper Bratt was good for 32 goals and 73 points in the regular season, but he has managed no goals and just three assists in this series. He is scoreless in three games at home in this series, too. I think he is due to strike for at least one goal, and he is a tremendous play for a chance to more than double up your initial wager.
- Jesper Bratt Anytime Goal Scorer (+220 at BetMGM)
Lastly, looking at the game props, I think we're going to go low and slow early on. For the 'When will the 1st goal be scored?' prop, taking 09:00 - 60:00 min. (-120), as I do not believe either side will get on the board in the first half of the first period.
- 1st Goal of the Game - 09:00 - 60:00 min. (-120 at BetMGM)
In addition, for the 1st Period total, go Under 1.5 total goals. We've seen one or no total goals in the first period in four of the past five games in this series. In a Game 7, with the intensity and pressure ratcheted up, it wouldn't be surprising to see no goals at all in the first 20 minutes. Go low.
- Under 1.5 First-Period Goals (-140 at BetMGM)