All eyes will be on Madison Square Garden when New York Rangers top prospect Igor Shesterkin makes his NHL debut in net Tuesday. How the Russian rookie performs will play a factor when making your NHL picks Tuesday.
NHL picks: Colorado Avalanche (-145) at New York Rangers (+125), Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
The Avalanche lead the NHL in goals per game (3.63) but were blanked Monday by the Islanders in a 1-0 loss. Now, the Avalanche must regroup on the second end of a back-to-back to complete their three-game, four-day East Coast swing.
In seven such situations this season, the Avalanche are 3-3-1 in the second game of a back-to-back.
Not only could tired legs be a factor Tuesday, but the Rangers have called up goalie Igor Shesterkin – the top prospect in the organization.
Shesterkin will make his NHL debut in net Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
In 23 AHL games with the Hartford Wolfpack, the 24-year-old Russian netminder sported a 15-4-3 record with a league-best 1.93 goals against average and .932 save percentage. Shesterkin was selected to this year’s AHL All-Star game.
Despite ranking 27th in goals allowed per game (3.32), goaltending hasn’t necessarily been a problem for the Rangers. It’s been the defense in front of goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev that has been their downfall. The plan is not for Shesterkin to become the Rangers’ new full-time goalie.
In fact, no one is quite sure what the actual plan is going forward – including the goalies themselves.
The Rangers have been much better at putting the puck in the net than preventing it from going in, ranking 11th in goals per game (3.24).
After signing a seven-year, $81 million contract in the offseason, free-agent acquisition Artemi Panarin has been worth every penny for the Rangers. Panarin is seventh in the NHL in assists (33) and points (55) and ranks 10th in goals (22).
Pointless in his last two games and without a goal in four of his last six games, let’s see if The Bread Man can get back on track Tuesday. The first of our NHL picks will be Panarin over 0.5 goals (+182).
Center Mika Zibanejad is averaging 1.11 points per game, which is 18th in the NHL. Even after being held pointless in the last two games, Zibanejad has recorded a point in eight of his last 11 games. Zibanejad over 1 point (+132) will be the next of our NHL picks.
At +118, Anthony DeAngelo over 0.5 points is another prop bet to consider. DeAngelo ranks fourth on the Rangers in points with 29. The fourth-year defenseman is also worth a small wager as a longshot goal scorer Tuesday with DeAngelo +630 to score over 0.5 goals.
For the Avalanche, goalie Phillip Grubauer will be back in net Tuesday after getting the night off Monday. The argument could be made that the Avalanche would be better off with backup Pavel Francouz between the pipes, as Francouz (2.32) has a better goals against average than Grubauer (2.87).
Prop bets are going to be a bit more difficult to make for the Avalanche largely because we don’t know what kind of performance we are going to get from Shesterkin. By all accounts, he’s legit. But plenty of top prospects have flamed out before, let alone how poised he will be in his NHL debut.
Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon has not scored a goal in his last two games. Only once this season has MacKinnon gone three games without a goal. Let’s make MacKinnon over 0.5 goals (+124) another one of our NHL picks Tuesday.
Forward Miko Rantanen did not have a single shot on goal Monday against the Islanders. Don’t expect the same thing to happen again Tuesday. It was the only time in 27 games this season Rantanen was held shotless – just one game after he recorded a hat trick Sunday in New Jersey.
As a result, over Rantanen 0.5 goals (+154) certainly has some appeal. Rantanen has 15 goals on the season in limited action.
Defenseman Cale Makar is second on the Avalanche in assists with 23. Makar over 0.5 assists (+134) is worth considering – especially if Shesterkin has a shaky night in net.
Because it’s entirely possible Shesterkin takes a bit to settle in in his NHL debut, we’ll take a shot with a small wager on first period number of goals: 1 (+210) to see if he allows one early.
The guess here is that Shesterkin settles in and picks up a win in his debut. The Rangers come into action Tuesday fresh, having not played since Saturday, so maybe they will play some defense for a change in front of him. We’ll go with number of away goals: Colorado Avalanche – 2 or less (+170) and Rangers +125 on the moneyline.
Perhaps Panarin has a big night to boost his fellow Russian, so let’s take a chance on Artemi Panarin 1+ goals/New York Rangers to win (+430) on the player performance doubles as the last of our NHL picks for this game.
NHL odds provided by FanDuel.