It was another poor result on Monday night as my lone free NHL pick did not pull through.
I had the under 5.5 between the Senators and Blue Jackets from Columbus on the back that the stout Jackets defense and elite-level goaltending they get at home would keep the Sens’ 30th-ranked – and watered down – offense at bay.
That was not the case on this night, however.
The Sens actually took a 3-2 lead midway through the third in this one, but the Jackets tied it less than a minute later which sank our pick before Columbus went onto win this one in overtime.
The one-unit loss continued a rough stretch for my picks, but there’s plenty of opportunity to get things turned around on this huge 13-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 101-88-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Rangers vs. Islanders in a rivalry matchup from the Nassau Coliseum Long Island!
Rangers vs. Islanders Betting Odds
- Rangers (+120)
- Islanders (-133)
- Rangers +1.5 (-208)
- Islanders -1.5 (+178)
- Over 6 (+105)
- Under 6 (-116)
Rangers vs. Islanders NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s check in with each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
Don’t look now but the Rangers are scorching-hot and very much back in the playoff race after winning three in a row, seven of eight and eight of their last 10.
They won both ends of a back-to-back scenario over the weekend over the Hurricanes on the road and the Sharks at home before heading out for a three-game road trip that will take them through Montreal and Philadelphia after this rivalry matchup tonight.
The Rangers have obviously surprised their way to the playoff chase thanks in large part to an offense that’s produced consistently throughout the season.
The Rangers enter this one ranked seventh with 3.21 goals per game on the road this season where their power play sits 12th with a 20.2% mark on the campaign.
That offense has averaged 4.67 goals per game over their last three, scoring five times or more in two of those games, and their power play has scored a goal in three of their last four contests.
Their work on the defensive end hasn’t been as good, but it’s improved greatly over the last little while.
The Rangers have averaged just two goals against per game over their last eight contests and also just two goals against per game over their last three on the road.
Now, they’ve made their way all the way to 15th with 3.07 goals against per game on the road while they sit 11th with an 80.9% mark on the penalty kill away from home as well.
Unfortunately, the Rangers faithful received some bad news yesterday as goaltending sensation Igor Shesterkin and forward Pavel Buchnevich were involved in a car accident that is going to sideline Shesterkin indefinitely due to a rib fracture sustained.
It has been no coincidence that the Rangers’ improved defensive numbers of late came alongside the play of Shesterkin who has been as advertised – and more – since making his NHL debut.
The 24-year-old Russian netminder owns a beautiful 2.23 GAA and .940 Sv% in his 10 NHL starts to this point and posted a 2.07 GAA and .946 Sv% in his three road starts.
Whether the Rangers can continue to defend at the current rate without him remains to be seen.
It will be up to Alexandar Georgiev to keep up the good work between the pipes for this one tonight, and he might have even received the starting nod for this one thanks to his work against the rival Islanders this season and in his young career.
Georgiev will enter this one sporting a 2.98 GAA and .912 Sv% on the season in 26 starts and 28 appearances to go along with a 2.78 GAA and .923 Sv% on the road across 15 starts.
Furthermore, Georgiev has made three starts against the Islanders this season, posting a 2.75 GAA and .913 Sv% against them in that time.
He actually owned a .946 Sv% against them in winning his first two starts against them this season, but the Islanders finally solved him in their third meeting, a 4-2 Islanders win at Madison Square Garden.
For his career, Georgiev owns a 4-2-0 record to go along with a real nice 1.93 GAA and .934 Sv% across six starts.
The Islanders set themselves back in the postseason race with a recent road trip that saw them lose all four games while scoring a combined two goals in the process.
They returned home to down the league-worst Red Wings on Friday by a 4-1 count before knocking off the visiting San Jose Sharks by that same score.
Obviously, the Wings and Sharks are two of the worst teams in the NHL this season, but the Islanders have nonetheless won their last two by a combined 8-2 score to put their solid work at both ends of the ice at home on display.
Their road defense is among the worst in the NHL, but improves by roughly a full goal-per-game at home to 3.39 goals per game which ranks them 11th in the league.
Their home power play sits down at 24th with a 16.9% clip on the season, but they’ve still managed to score at least four goals in five straight games on home ice and have averaged 4.33 goals per game at home over their last nine.
While the offensive bounce back was nice, the defense never really faded, even on the aforementioned road trip as they lost the final three games of that trip despite allowing just six total goals in that time.
Their defense has actually been a little better on the road overall this season, but they still sit 10th with 2.68 goals against per game at home with their 80.2% mark on the penalty kill at home ranking 20th.
All told, the Islanders have allowed just eight goals total over their last five games, good for 1.60 goals against per game during that time with one goal or fewer allowed in three of those five games.
For good measure, their penalty kill has been fantastic lately as well, going 13 for 14 (92.9%) over their last seven games.
The Islanders have been the recipient of some quality goaltending at home as well with their .928 Sv% at 5v5 at home ranking ninth in the league, and it will be up to Semyon Varlamov to keep up the good work tonight.
Varlamov has been getting the lion’s share of starts over Thomas Greiss of late after the duo alternated starts earlier in the year.
It’s no surprise to see him getting the nod again tonight for the sixth consecutive game as he’s posted an elite .949 Sv% over his last five starts and a .962 Sv% over his two starts while earning the wins over the Wings and Sharks.
His numbers are also superior on the road, but he’s also sporting a quality 2.72 GAA and .912 Sv% at home and is certainly entering this one red-hot.
I didn’t note the possession metrics for these two clubs as I normally do as they both actually sport quite poor possession figures.
That said, the Islanders own a 53.79% High-Danger Chances mark at 5v5 at home while the Rangers own a 45.02% mark on the road, so it would not be surprising to see the ice tilted in the Islanders’ favor in this one.
This is an Islanders team that is at their best when they aren’t allowing much offense, and that has certainly been the case of late with 1.60 goals against per game over their last five.
All it took was returning to home ice to take advantage of that strong defensive work where they are far better offense than on the road.
There’s little doubt that the Rangers have been hot lately and one of the best teams in the NHL of late as well.
However, the unfortunate injury to Shesterkin could be a factor here despite Georgiev putting in good work in this matchup in his brief career combined with his nice work on the road this season.
At the end of the day we have an Islanders team that is allowing next to nothing on defense while getting their game going at the other end of the ice.
Add in the red-hot goaltender and I believe the Islanders can keep the quality Rangers offense at bay en route to a moneyline win.