Kings are 10/17 favorites to beat Rangers (3/2)

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The Los Angeles Kings are 10/17 favorites to beat the New York Rangers (3/2) in the Stanley Cup Final, according to online bookmaker Bovada.

That’s a fairly substantial difference in odds, but certainly not unexpected. The Rangers entered the playoffs at 20/1 to win the Cup; only four teams had higher odds than that, while the Kings were at 10/1.

The Kings also have home-ice advantage in the series, thanks to the 100 points they earned during the regular season, compared to the Rangers’ 96. The three teams Los Angeles has already beaten this postseason — San Jose, Anaheim, and Chicago — all finished with at least 107 points.

Is there value in the underdog Rangers? Possibly. Their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist (.928 save percentage), has been significantly better than Jonathan Quick (.906) in these playoffs, and they’ve had since Thursday to rest up for the final, while the Kings took until Sunday to eliminate the Blackhawks.

There’s also this, from the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:

…the Rangers are a far more dangerous team than their record shows. After pulling out of a tailspin in the opening couple of months under new coach Alain Vigneault, they closed the season 29-13-4, picking up more points (62) in that span than all but two teams.

That’s cherry picking dates a little but the fact was they were basically a 110-point team for a huge portion of the year, something made possible by not only Lundqvist’s return to form but the team adapting to Vigneault’s aggressive, puck pressure system.

The last Eastern Conference team to win the Stanley Cup, the 2011 Boston Bruins, went into the final versus Vancouver as even bigger underdogs than the Rangers.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.