Coming into this season, everyone expected the New York Rangers to be serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. Far fewer thought that the Vancouver Canucks would be among the best in the league. However, with the midway point of the season almost here, the Canucks have been one of the biggest surprises and this game is a battle of two division leaders.
The Rangers and the Canucks both sit in the top five across the entire NHL. There is a lot of offensive firepower in this game, which will be a major part of our preview. Let’s take a look at all the different aspects of this heavyweight bout taking place on Monday night.
Bet on Canucks vs. Rangers
Canucks vs. Rangers odds
|Canucks Moneyline Odds
|Rangers Moneyline Odds
|Rangers -1.5 (+160), Canucks +1.5 (-190)
|6.5 goals (over -105, under -115)
|Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m. ET
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About the Rangers (26-10-2 SU, 14-18 ATS, 17-14-1 o/u)
The Rangers came into the 2023-24 season as a top contender to win the cup. They are one of the deepest teams in the league and may have the very best netminder as well, although Igor Shesterkin hasn’t been at the top of his game so far this year. They currently have a five-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for control of the Metropolitan Division.
Let’s start between the pipes. Shesterkin, the former Vezina Trophy winner, has been good if not great so far this year. He is 16-8 with a 2.75 GAA and .908 SV%, both decent but not up to his standards. Veteran backup Jonathan Quick has been a pleasant surprise, however. He is 9-2-2 with a 2.44 GAA and .915 SV%.
Offensively, Artemi Panarin has looked resurgent this season. Through 38 games, he has 25 goals and 55 points (fourth and third across the NHL, respectively). The attack is deep behind him as centers Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck each have 38 points, and winger Chris Kreider continues to put the puck in the back of the net with 20 goals. Former first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, considered by many to be a bust, has rebounded this season with 23 points so far.
Defensively, the Rangers have a nice mix of skill and grit. Jacob Trouba seems to make headlines every other game for delivering a huge hit to the opposition. Adam Fox, who has been dealing with injuries, has 25 points in 28 games and is a focal point of the power play. The Rangers play a solid, balanced game on the back end which is part of the reason that they are so good. Overall, the Rangers have a balanced team and will present a tough challenge for the Canucks, especially with having home advantage in this one.
About the Canucks (25-11-3 SU, 23-10 ATS, 20-11-2 o/u)
There are not many people who thought that at the NHL’s midway point, the Canucks would not only be leading the Pacific Division but be among the handful of the best teams in the league.
Yet here we are and a major part of that has to do with the offence. They lead the NHL with 149 goals in 39 games, an average of 3.82 goals per game. A big reason for that is the fact that they are getting goals from all areas. J.T. Miller (53), Quinn Hughes (49), and Elias Pettersson (48) are all in the top 11 in scoring. Brock Boeser is one of the league leaders in goals with 24, and the team has a whopping 14 players with 10 or more points.
Despite a rather unheralded group of defenders, the Canucks are tied for fourth in the NHL in goals against. Hughes leads the NHL in points by a defenceman and Filip Hronek has been a pleasant surprise with 30 points so far. Carson Soucy, Nikita Zadorov, and Tyler Myers provide a nice mix of size, skill, and grit to complement their top two scoring defencemen.
In net, goalie Thatcher Demko has rebounded with a very strong season. He played far below his standard last season and missed a lot of time due to injury. He has fully boucned back and his 19-8-1 record, 2.53 GAA, and .916 SV% are all among the top few goalies in the game. Casey DeSmith has been solid as his backup, going 6-3-2 with a 2.58 GAA and .917 SV%.
Artemi Panarin anytime scorer
It has been a while since these two met, last facing one another in Vancouver back on Oct. 28. The Rangers got on the board first thanks to Panarin’s fourth goal of the year, coming on the power play. Miller would respond for the Canucks in the back half of the second to send things into the final frame tied 1-1.
Things would really escalate beginning in the third. Myers put the Canucks up 2-1 with a shorthanded goal but the Rangers would put two in the net within 1:03 to take the lead. Soucy would score a rare goal with just under five minutes left to knot things up. In the extra session, K’Andre Miller notched his first of the year to give the Rangers the 4-3 victory on the road.
The Rangers are largely healthy with two major omissions. Kaapo Kakko, the strong two-way winger, is at least skating again as recovers from a lower-body injury, though he’s in a non-contact jersey. His return is unknown at this time. Filip Chytil is still dealing with an upper-body injury and is in Czechia recovering as last reported.
The Canucks are a bit healthier than the Rangers. Defenceman Guillaume Brisebois and winger Phillip Di Giuseppe are both on injured reserve. The bigger name to watch is Zadorov. The hulking defenceman didn’t play against the Devils on Saturday and it is unknown if he will be in the lineup on Monday.
- To no one’s surprise, the Canucks have been very good against the over of late. Going back to Dec. 19, the Canucks have a 5-2 record hitting the over. Funny enough, the only two times they didn’t hit the over were both losses, 2-1 to the Blues and 4-1 to the Flyers.
- The Rangers have been just as good when it comes to the over. Over their last nine games, the Rangers have hit the over seven times (though two of those unders have come in the last four games). Those two unders came in blowout wins against the Blackhawks and Lightning.
- The Canucks have been a bit up and down over their last stretch. Over their last 10, they haven’t lost twice in a row but only won two straight once. Likewise, they have alternated between covering the puckline and failing to do so over their last seven, the latest cover against the Devils on Jan. 6.
Player prop trends
- Hughes has been a point-machine over his last 10 games. Though he had a stretch of three games where he went pointless, he also managed five straight games with a point, including two multi-point games.
- There may be no hotter goal scorer in the league than Panarin. In his last eight games, he has lit the lamp six times, including a hat trick on Dec. 30. He scored his last time out, too, so consider taking the hot hand in any props.
- Pettersson is as balanced a player as there is in the league. He picks up either a goal or an assist just about every other game but what’s interesting is his last six games. In that stretch, he has three multi-point games and three games with nothing. He’s been all-or-nothing so far this season.
Wagers to consider
- The over (6.5, -105) should be in serious consideration. These two teams not only have the track record this season, but the stats to show for it. Though the goaltending has also been solid, there is just too much firepower to expect a quiet defensive battle. Hammer the over on this one.
- It’s just too hard to ignore how good Panarin has been of late. He has eight goals in his last eight games and has proven he can score against even the good teams. Take him to score any time (+120) in this one.