New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders (10/26 @ 7:30 PM EST)
Overview and Betting
The New York Rangers (3-2-2) will be traveling next door to take on their city rival, the New York Islanders (2-4). Both teams come in with playoff hopes but have had difficult starts to their season, dropping three straight coming into tonight. The game is vital in the division standings and the overall series, which is currently tied at 153-153-19.
The Rangers have failed to cover the puck line in four of their last five games and have a three-game losing streak coming into tonight. They have hit the under in the last three games and four of their previous five games.
The Islanders have covered the puck line in three of their last five games, hitting the over three times.
New York Rangers
The 3-2-2 Rangers suffered another heartbreaker last night, losing to Colorado in a shootout. They went down early, but in the second and third periods, they came to life and fell just short. The loss is their third consecutive (two were in OT), and they’ve now dropped four of their last five games.
The offense has been struggling over their last three games. After scoring six against Anaheim, they scored just five over their following three losses. Artemi Panarin (12 points) and Mika Zibanejad (8 points) continue to lead the team in goals with 4. While they didn’t find the back of the net, the Rangers did see more aggressive play from former first-overall pick Alexis LaFreniere which gives the team hope going forward.
Despite scoring two goals, the Rangers put up 46 shots last night. It’s a significant number and a credit to how good the Av’s defense played. It didn’t help that they failed to score on all four power plays, which is surprising for a unit that had played so well. If the Rangers can continue to generate shots and re-capture their power play prowess, we could see a big game from the offense tonight.
On defense, the Rangers are young and have been sporadic to start the season. While they gave up shots to the Avs, they played well in such huge spots and were a reason this one got to overtime. Colorado looked in top form last night, so to limit them to two goals (one on power play) is impressive. They were led again by Adam Fox, who spent 25 minutes on the ice and scored a goal on the only shot he took.
Jaroslav Halak is projected to get the start in goal after Igor Shesterkin started last night. He’s 0-2 on the year, giving up eight goals and saving just 85% of shots. Halak is capable, but the defense must cut down to be on point if the Rangers want to keep this close.
New York Islanders
The 2-4 Islanders will be desperate for a win as they host their cross-town rival tonight. After keeping the roster mostly intact, they came into the season hoping their experience would make them a playoff team. While it’s early, it does not appear that tactic is working, as they’ve dropped their last three games.
One of the reasons for their recent struggles is the play of their top-line offense. Veteran Zach Parise leads the line with one goal, while Matthew Barzal and Josh Bailey are still searching for their first of the year. The hope was that Barzal would take a big step forward and Bailey would be around the 45-point mark, but that has been far from the case. The struggles have resulted in the Islanders scoring just six goals in their last three games.
While the top line has struggled, the Islander’s second line has led the offense. Anders Lee and Oliver Wahlstrom lead the team with seven combined goals and have been carrying this offense. The duo has been supported by their offensive-minded blueliners, who have combined for seven of the team’s nineteen goals.
Noah Dobson has followed up on his breakout 50-point season with 5 points and leads this impressive defensive unit. The Islanders added Alexander Romanov to their top line, and he’s answered with some stellar defense. While he’s yet to register a point, his defensive-minded play has allowed Dobson to focus more on generating offense.
The Islanders will be starting Ilya Sorokin between the pipes tonight. The veteran from Russia has stumbled a bit out of the gates, going 1-3 and allowing nine goals in his last two starts. Given his strong play last season and the fact that he’s saving 90% of shots, there is an expectation that he will return to form soon.
Free Pick: Over 6
The Rangers were coming off a challenging game last night, but we see the offensive momentum continuing. They took a ton of shots in the previous two periods, and it looked like the Ranger team fans hoped to see coming into the year. As good as their defense played, they’ll be tired and have a significant downgrade in goal with Halak. These are all ingredients for a barnburner tonight.
We’re taking the over against this low total and look forward to seeing a great game in New York tonight.