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Why oddsmakers don’t believe in Rangers in Eastern Conference Finals vs. Panthers



The Rangers are still getting no love in the sports betting world, being installed as +130 underdogs against the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“We, as oddsmakers, make odds based on facts and stats, not on hope,” DraftKings Director of Trading Johnny Avello told The Post. “That doesn’t mean the Rangers can’t win The Cup, but when we look at the two teams, the Panthers are the better team on paper, slightly.

“We respect the Rangers, but all the stats that the algorithm tells us are what we have viewed all year. We have a whole team that works just on hockey, and we base it on probability with all the information we have.”

DraftKings tells The Post that they have held steady on their Panthers -150 vs. Rangers +130 pricing, as they are often the first to release odds the minute that a matchup is announced.

Meanwhile other books may have opened the Panthers at worse odds, leading to a stream of money coming in at any book with better than a -150 on the Panthers.

“There’s probably going to be more Ranger money as they have been all year long…They are still the biggest hazard we have by far, even more so now,” Avello said while chuckling. “We don’t worry about that, though, we just make the odds as fair as possible to get two way action from recreational and sharp money.”

Caesars Sportsbook Vice President of Trading Craig Mucklow sees the Panthers after they reached the Stanley Cup a year ago, losing to the Golden Knights in five games.

“With Florida’s physicality and their Stanley Cup Finals appearance from a year ago, they are a small favorite at Caesars Sportsbook against the Rangers in the conference finals,” Mucklow said via email.

The Panthers are currently -140 favorites compared to the Rangers +118 at Caesars, substantially lower than most of the market.

“We have already seen some money come in for Florida in Game 1, making them the slight favorite heading into Wednesday’s opening matchup,” Mucklow said.

Artemi Panarin scores against the Hurricanes. Getty Images

BetMGM is taking a similar approach, boasting the stats-first mentality for the Rangers-Panthers series.

“The Florida Panthers led the NHL in several statistical categories, most notably in goal differential, where they were first overall,” Sports Trader Matthew Rasp told The Post. “Despite the team’s success, some individuals aren’t performing quite as expected for the Rangers as well. Meanwhile, (Sergei) Bobrovsky continues his impressive season as an anchor for the Panthers.”

BetMGM did not return a more specific request about which players, in particular, were not playing up to capability.

“Rangers get the edge with goalie, but Panthers have a deeper team overall, if you wanna look at top lines, equal there, but the Rangers do most of their damage on special teams,” Avello said.

The Rangers and Panthers will be in a dog fight in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Rangers and Panthers will be in a dog fight in the Eastern Conference Finals. Getty Images

“When we assess a team’s power rating, we rate the offense and defense edge for the Panthers, while the Rangers get the edge on special teams and goaltending.”

Beyond this round, Avello says the Rangers would profile as at least +100 underdogs against either the Stars or Oilers, the two teams competing in the Western Conference Finals, beginning Thursday night in Dallas.

Betting on the NHL?

The Rangers are currently +400 to win the Stanley Cup Finals odds, the worst odds of the remaining four teams in the playoffs.

“The +400 is based on your being an underdog in this series already,” Avello said. “And then the next match, you’re going to be at least close to pick ’em, maybe a small dog in the next series.”

Even if the Rangers are underdogs, the expectation is this will be a tight series.

“In my gut, I think this series is going the distance,” Avello concluded. “Last time we spoke, I said the Rangers were a hazard. Well, they’re an even bigger hazard than the last time we spoke.”

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