It’s been a couple days since I have released some free NHL picks, and as a brief note, I split my Friday picks 1-1 and was dead-even in units.
I had the Hurricanes to take care of the visiting Coyotes in regulation time, and that was indeed the case.
For the second straight game, the Coyotes failed to score a goal and the Hurricanes scored three of their own as we cruised to a winner thanks to a 3-0 Hurricanes victory.
However, I also had the Avalanche to dispose of the visiting Penguins in regulation, but once again the Penguins had an upset up their sleeve.
Pittsburgh not only took the game to overtime to sink my pick, but won the game in the extra frame and dealt the Avalanche an upset loss on their home ice.
With the one unit won on the Hurricanes game and the one unit loss on the Avalanche game, we came out unscathed as a productive month of January continues into tonight’s five-game NHL schedule.
Season Record: 75-60-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Islanders vs. Rangers in a rivalry matchup from Madison Square Garden!
Islanders vs. Rangers Betting Odds
- Islanders (-125)
- Rangers (+105)
- Islanders -1,5 (+200)
- Rangers +1.5 (-240)
- Over 6 (+100)
- Under 6 (-120)
Islanders vs. Rangers NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
The Islanders took a mini two-game winning streak into their matchup on home ice with the Bruins on Saturday, but dropped an overtime affair by a 3-2 count in a game that featured a couple of the NHL’s best defenses.
The Islanders will enter tonight’s contest in a tie for second place with just 2.52 goals against per game on the road while their penalty kill sits 11th with an 80.7% mark away from home.
Interestingly, their goals against per game mark on the road is identical to their goals for per game mark as the Islanders sit down at 22nd with that 2.52 mark on offense while their road play power sits 18th at 17.6%.
The Islanders are also one of the more interesting teams in the league from an advanced numbers standpoint as they sit third in the Metropolitan and tied for fourth overall in the east despite some terrible possession metrics.
At 5v5 on the road, the Islanders rank 25th with a 46.38% Corsi For%, 24th with a 45.77% Scoring Chances For% and also 24th with a 43.84% High-Danger Chances For%.
How can they be 13-7-1 on the road with poor possession metrics and a weak road offense, you ask?
I’d point to their sixth-ranked .933 Sv% at 5v5 on the road and their fifth-ranked .854 high-danger Sv% which in turn has led to them sitting near the top of the league in road defense.
Still, if you’re of the eye-test variety, the Islanders do play with a ton of structure and they’ve now been able to defy the analytics for the second straight season.
Looking to keep that high quality of goaltending going tonight will be Semyon Varlamov as he’ll enter this one red-hot.
Varlamov owns a very strong 2.33 GAA and .923 Sv% on the season to go along with a 15-5-4 record, however that doesn’t even tell the whole story.
Varlamov also owns a 1.84 GAA and .936 Sv% to go along with an 8-2-1 record on the road while he’s posted a 1.76 GAA and .941 Sv% in the month of January across four outings.
As a result, he’s now getting the lion’s share of starts in goal over Thomas Greiss after the duo split most of the games earlier in the season before their games went in opposite directions recently.
The Rangers also carried a mini two-game win streak into their Saturday matchup with the Blues, however they were dealt a thorough 5-2 loss while being outshot 29-23 in that one.
Being outshot is nothing new for this team.
The Rangers have been outshot in six of their last eight games and even get outshot regularly at home where they owns a -4.1 average shot differential, easily the worst mark in the NHL.
Like the Islanders, the Rangers are posting some suspect possession metrics, and in their case they own about the worst possession numbers on home ice of any team in the NHL.
At 5v5 at home, the Rangers rank last with a 44.79% Corsi For%, 30th with a 46.20% Scoring Chances For% and 25th with a 49.70% High-Danger Chances For%.
They have been fortunate in netting a fourth-ranked 9.59% shooting percentage at 5v5 at home, which has led to a strong home offense that ranks sixth with 3.55 goals per game despite sitting in a tie for 21st with 30.6 shots per game at home.
They’ve scored 21 goals over their last four at home, however, and it’s hard to argue with those sort of results.
Still, they also rank 24th with 3.18 goals against per game at home and 16th with an 80.9% penalty kill at home as well.
Getting the nod between the pipes for the home side in this one will be Alexandar Georgiev who has been decent on the whole this season, but not so great at home.
Georgiev enters this one sporting a 3.17 GAA and .909 Sv% on the season, but also just a 3.41 GAA and .893 Sv% at home.
His overall numbers confirm the story that while he owns a solid save percentage (individual stat), the sheer volume of shots he faces will increase his goals against (team stat).
One thing for Rangers fans to hang their hats on is the fact that Georgiev has been brilliant in three career starts against the Islanders, posting a 0.87 GAA and .967 Sv%, but also losing one of those starts.
The battle of New York rarely misses on entertainment value, so this should be a good one tonight.
However, I can’t help but like the superior team in this one, which in this case is the Islanders despite being on the road.
I mean, the Islanders are 13-7-1 on the road and while the Rangers are a solid 12-8-2 at home, I like that stout defense and goaltending the Islanders bring to the table.
The Rangers have been good at home of late, but aside from their offense, their numbers at home do not lend themselves to any sort of consistent winning at home and if that offense is limited by the NHL’s second-best road defense, they will be in big trouble.
I’m not going to overthink this one and I’ll take the superior Islanders to win this one over their arch rival tongiht on Broadway.