Rangers vs. Islanders Pick – NHL January 14th

The New York Rangers and New York Islanders get together to tangle for the second time this season. In the first matchup, the Islanders were able to knock the Rangers off on the road. Now the series turns to Brooklyn where the Rangers look to return the favor. The Rangers have been stuck in a bit of the twilight zone this season. I say this because Henrik has not been Henrik. The Rangers’ defense has not been the Rangers’ defense. Like their rivals, the Boston Bruins, the defense has been severely hindered and not playing at full capacity. At least, at the same level as we have come to see the Rangers play at. Last season, well, I should say throughout his entire career, Henrik Lundqvist might have a bad night once every few weeks. However, Henrik is finding those nights occur a little more frequently. Lundqvist currently holds a GAA of 2.49.

The last time he had a GAA that bad was in 2008-09 where he finished the season with a 2.43 GAA. He is obviously on pace to have his worst season in the NHL. We aren’t even at the halfway point yet, so we’ll see where it goes from here. We can’t blame it all on Lundqvist, it’s a team effort, and right now the Rangers haven’t been playing too well defensively. Acquiring the pricey Keith Yandle has been a bit of a bust. Despite all this, the Rangers still hold a respectable record of 23-14-3-2. The offense has been playing good hockey.

In a sense, the Islanders were the surprise team of last season. I say in a sense because if you were paying attention to the Isles, one could have come to the reasonable conclusion that they were going to be due for a breakout campaign. It occurred last season, and the Islanders are trying to follow it up with another successful year. However, getting complacent is a dangerous formula for young teams who had breakout seasons the prior year. It’s easy to feel relaxed and confident after such success. Nearly halfway into the season, I can honestly say I’m still not sure which way the Islanders are heading.

At 23-15-3 the Isles are in a solid position, but a record like that is in the danger zone. A rough stretch for a couple of weeks and it puts them in a tough spot. However, conversely, a strong two weeks could thrust them into a comfortable position. We’ll see how they handle things in the second half of the season. This one is on John Tavares. He has 15 goals and 15 assists. Nothing to feel ashamed about, but a +/- of -7? A lot of people like to look at goals and assists as a measure of productivity solely, but +/- is a great barometer in my opinion. It is going to be really interesting to see where the Islanders’ season goes. Let’s get to the pick now.

N.Y. Rangers vs. N.Y. Islanders NHL Pick

The Rangers are coming off a 2-1 win over a rival, the Boston Bruins. In the prior game they lost a hard fought game against the ultra-hot Washington Capitals in overtime, a 4-3 final. It would have made for a nice three game win streak for the Rangers, with wins over the Stars, Caps, and Bruins. Nevertheless, they were able to earn points in all three of those games. A welcoming sign against three decent opponents. The Islanders beat the Blue Jackets, 5-2, their last time out. Can we say that is much of an accomplishment? The Jackets have gotten better from the start of the season (how could they have gotten any worse), but still are trying to find their way. The Islanders are 5-5 their last ten games.

I feel a turnaround coming for the Rangers. They have beaten some good teams lately, and barely lost against very good ones. Note that they lost be a goal twice to the Capitals the last ten games. But they also have solid wins against the Stars, Ducks, Lightning, and Bruins. The Isles have allowed 3.00 goals per game their last ten outings. Conversely, the Rangers have allowed 3.60 goals a game. But both teams have been scoring nearly 3 a game during that same stretch. I understand why the UNDER is juiced in this game, the Rangers and Islanders have typically had low scoring games. However, this hasn’t really been the same Rangers’ stingy defense lately. I’m all about value, and I believe the OVER at plus money is good value tonight.

PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (+120)