One of the more surprising early season results was watching the new-look New York Rangers get absolutely embarrassed in their home opener two nights ago against their bitter rivals in the Islanders.
Debuting top pick Alexis Lafreniere and likely Rookie of the Year contender in Igor Shesterkin in goal, the Rags showed little fight or bite against the tight defensive system and style of the Isles.
What New York lacks in gamebreaking talent, they make up for it by employing an excellent system and great team structure. The familiarity of the Isles went a long way on Thursday evening, as they forced countless turnovers on their cross-town rivals, en route to an easy 4-0 victory.
The Rangers have talent but they still need to become more cohesive as a group. They also need some more saves as well, as Shesterkin wasn’t anywhere near good enough. Expect the Rangers to go to their very capable backup netminder in Alexander Georgiev. For the Isles, don’t be surprised if they turn to their highly touted Russian goalie in Ilya Sorokin.
After the events of two nights ago, it should only add fuel to the fire in what has always been a very heated rivalry between the Isles and Rangers. The Blueshirts are supposed to be a much improved side, but they’ll need to prove it with a big bounce-back effort come Saturday night. For added team news and our betting prediction for night two of the Battle of New York, read on beneath the posted odds for our take on the latest installment of this heated rivalry.
Islanders vs. Rangers Betting Odds:
@ Rangers (+100)
Over 6 (-105)
Under 6 (-115)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Islanders vs. Rangers Pick:
While the Isles certainly seem well-built for early season success due to their familiarity, eventually teams will out-skill this group. They’re also much thinner on the defensive side, as they were forced to ship out Devon Toews in the off-season and failed to effectively replace him. The Isles are very much a ‘fade’ team in 2021, though you cannot deny that they are greater than the sum of their parts.
They continue to defy analytics, and much of their play and success can be attributed to implementing an excellent system and structure, as laid out by one of the league’s top coaches in Barry Trotz. Can they fool the Rangers in back-to-back outings? The thinking here is that the Rags will be more up to the challenge in game two.
Expect the Rangers to play with more pace after having a full game to get their legs back under them. The duo of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad cannot be stopped by any defensive pairing of the Islanders, and should be able to have more offensive success with more possession and time.
The Blueshirts also boast the depth advantage and should be able to lean on youngsters like Kaapo Kakko and the aforementioned Lafreniere to really outplay the bottom-six of the Isles, comprised mostly of washed-up veterans and career bangers.
Expect Rangers’ head coach David Quinn to also make better use of the last change in this contest, as Matt Barzal of the isles was able to roam free on many occasions Thursday night. He is certainly a player to watch, and if New York can ensure one of Jacob Trouba or Adam Fox is out there when he is, they can significantly reduce the chances and goals the Isles will hope to create.
Look for a more disciplined and focused Rangers team to take the ice on Saturday evening. Georgiev will be steady for the Rags, while their offense is just too deep and too high-end to be held off of the scoresheet. As home underdogs, the Rangers represent good value to get back on track here in the latest edition of the Battle of New York.