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Senators vs. Rangers Game 1 NHL Playoff Free Picks | Preview

Ottawa Senators at NY Rangers Pick

The surprise team of the Eastern Conference will try to take down the East Champs in a matchup of the #8 seed Ottawa Senators, losers of three straight heading into the playoffs and the #1 seed New York Rangers who lost their last two games of the regular season.

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When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 12, 2012
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Broadcast: CBC, NHLN-US, RDS, MSG (HD)
Senators vs. Rangers Betting Lines from betonline.com
Spread: Rangers -1 ½ (+175)
Moneyline: Senators +159: Rangers -175
Over/Under: 5 goals

Matchup | Preview 

New York has been stellar all season long but surprisingly the upstart Senators have fared very well against the in going 3-1 in the four meetings and winning both encounters at Madison Square Garden.

For Ottawa it will have to be the fourth ranked offense that gets it done. The problem with that is the fact that the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist are the third best team in the league in goals against. Ottawa will have goaltender Craig Anderson back and at full strength but even he can’t provide a boost to Ottawa’s 24th ranked defense.

Jason Spezza will be the focus of New York’s defense in Game 1. He had 33 points in his last 24 games of the regular season. Eric Karlsson will also be a focal point – he was tops in NHL defensemen this season with 78 points. The Senators will need some production from Daniel Alfredsson who struggled a bit down the stretch and Milan Michalek who went pointless in his last three games.

The New York Rangers enter the postseason 6-4-0 in their last 10 games but ended with two straight losses. They were 13th in goals for but do boast a good offensive squad. Brad Richards and Marion Gaborik were just OK down the stretch but the depth at forward bailed the team out. Brian Boyle had three points in two games and Brandon Dubinsky had three points in three games for the Rangers on their second line – yes, the Rangers are dangerous and surprisingly deep. [ad-4437448]

For New York to win on Thursday it will be Henrik Lundqvist that will have to be the star. He had 39 wins this year, a 1.97 goals against average and a .930 save percentage this season but closed out the regular campaign going 1-1-0 with a 3.50 goals against average in his last two starts.

Betting Prediction: The Ottawa Senators were actually better on the road than at home this season – 6th best away from home. But the Rangers happened to be the league’s 7th best team on home ice. The Sens went 3-1 versus the Rangers this season and won both games at MSG – it is safe to say that they won’t be intimidated on Thursday night. Ottawa is 21-6 in the last 27 meetings in New York – they love playing in the Big Apple!

Take the road team to get a leg up in the series on Thursday – pressure is squarely on New York with Ottawa having nothing to lose.

Pick: Ottawa Senators +159

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Dave B has been a Fantasy Football writer for us for 10 years. A couch potato wannabe, Dave’s insights have been read by 10’s of people for years. He hope’s for world peace + global relaxation. Enjoy and remember only smoke things that are completely natural.