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    Blackhawks vs. Rangers Thursday NHL odds, props: Connor Bedard to make Madison Square Garden debut

    The Blackhawks and Connor Bedard visit the New York Rangers on Thursday.
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    Without question, there is one arena in the United States that both NHL and NBA get most excited to play in: New York's Madison Square Garden, often referred to as the world's most famous arena The most touted NHL rookie in years, the Chicago Blackhawks' Connor Bedard, will play his first NHL game at the Garden on Thursday night, although the Rangers are whopping -420 favorites on the SportsLine consensus.

    All NHL venues have a little extra buzz this year when Bedard makes his first appearance there, although Chicago is only 4-15-1 on the road. The Blackhawks are still one of the league's worst teams with a scant 24 total points despite having potential franchise-changing talent in the 2023 No. 1 overall pick.

    The 18-year-old Bedard leads Chicago and all rookies with 15 goals and 33 points, although he's an ugly minus-20 and has no goals and one assist in the past three games, all Blackhawks losses. On the road this season, he has 11 goals and eight assists in 20 games.

    Bedard, who was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month in both November and December, is the -425 favorite to win the Calder Trophy. He's +170 for any anytime goal on Thursday and has an over/under of 2.5 shots on goal after being held without any shots for only the second time in his career Tuesday in Nashville.

    It's going to take some time for the Blackhawks to build a good roster around Bedard, and Chicago has been decimated by injuries with several players on injured reserve. Another promising young forward, 26-year-old Anthony Beauvillier, landed on IR Wednesday with a wrist injury. He has two goals and four assists in 15 games with Chicago after being acquired in trade from Vancouver. Lukas Reichel and Nick Foligno are candidates to move into Beauvillier's first-line role.

    It should be Petr Mrazek starting in net for Chicago. He's 9-12-1 with a 3.24 GAA and .904 SV. Those aren't great numbers, but significantly better than those posted by backup Arvid Soderblom, who lost Tuesday against the Preds.

    The Rangers were embarrassed on home ice Tuesday, 6-1, by division rival Carolina – although New York still leads the Central with 51 points and is one point behind Boston for the East lead. Tuesday marked only the fifth time overall and the first time since Nov. 29 that the Rangers were outscored on special teams. The Rangers are +750 co-favorites at DraftKings to win the Stanley Cup, but somehow have now managed to lose seven times this season by three or more goals.

    Bedard won't be the only former first-round pick to make his Garden debut tonight as Brennan Othmann, the Rangers' 16th overall selection of the 2021 draft, will replace Tyler Pitlick in the New York lineup after Pitlick sustained a lower-body injury during Tuesday's loss. The 20-year-old Othmann has nine goals and 14 assists in 28 games for AHL Hartford in his rookie pro season. He also was a member of last year's gold medal-winning Canadian junior team. There are no props available for Othmann as he will likely play a limited role in his debut.

    It's not clear yet if it will be Igor Shesterkin (15-8-0, 2.83 GAA) or Jonathan Quick (9-2-1, 2.41) in net after Shesterkin was pounded by the Hurricanes last time out. It probably will be Quick.

    The Blackhawks are 6-3-0 in their last nine games at Madison Square Garden but most of those Chicago teams were much, much better than this one. The money line matches the biggest margin by which the Rangers have been favored this season. They were -420 at home vs. San Jose on Dec. 3 and won 6-5. Thursday is only the fourth time since 2006 that the Rangers have been at least -400. 

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    SportsLine Staff

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