The next installation of the N.Y. Rangers and Islanders intercity rivalry continues tonight. This Rangers had a grip on this game for years, the Islanders were pretty well irrelevant. Finding fans of the Islanders was not the easiest chore with the Rangers competing and winning a Stanley Cup in the 90s. Drafting John Tavares pushed the tide towards the Isles somewhat. It got the ball rolling in the right direction, anyway. The Islanders demanded that people give them respect last season with pretty solid play, but they ultimately fell to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. It was still a step in the right direction, posting a record of 47-28-7. I compared the Islanders to the Avalanche. The Avalanche were great two years ago and had a coming out party under Patrick Roy. Flash forward to the next season and trouble ensued in Colorado. The Avalanche failed to reach the playoffs. I am keeping an eye on the Isles for the same kind of regression. Same kind of young team with talent who dropped off the following season.
It remains to be seen if that is coming to fall true with the Islanders this season. There is still a lot of hockey left to be played and the Islanders haven’t shown anything one way or the other. They have been good with a 13-8-2 record but not on the elite level of the NHL. I think some people were anticipating that the Islanders take the jump to being elite this season. But then again, a lot of people believed that the Avs were going to as well. In any regard, a win against the Rangers would be a nice way to say they can beat the elite teams. My worry with them is that they become a team that plays well in the regular season, but cannot improve on it in the playoffs. There are far too many of those kind of teams in the NHL. We can go down the list. Good game tonight between the Rangers and Islanders. We’ll get right to it and the pick.
N.Y. Rangers vs. N.Y. Islanders NHL Pick
The first thing that caught my attention in this game is the price. The Rangers are catching a healthy +107. Meanwhile the Islanders are looking at -118 as favorites. First thing to come to mind is that the price may be off a little. The Rangers are a 17-6-1 team compared to the Islanders 13-8-2. Is Vegas playing a trap on us? Statistically speaking the Rangers have looked like the most impressive team in the NHL. Note that they are 1st in the league in goals against and are 6th in scoring. That kind of production usually results in 17-6-1 records. The Rangers have been quite adequate on the road as well, posting a mark of 6-3-1. We will see a split crowd at the Barclay Center tonight, so it isn’t really a road game for either team, though.
The last three games in this series have all been at the Islanders’ home. I complain about scheduling all the time in the NHL and how the Isles get four straight games against the Rangers at home is beside me. The Rangers ended up winning the last two. The Isles are right behind the Rangers in scoring with 2.88 goals per game, 8th in the league. They are eight spots behind the Islanders in the defensive department. Everything aside, it is difficult for me to ignore the price the Rangers are getting in this game. I think they should be slight favorites against the Islanders.
PICK: RANGERS TO WIN +107