The New York Rangers try to hold on to their playoff position over the Carolina Hurricanes tonight as they face off against their cross state rivals, the New York Islanders.

With a loss on Wednesday night and a Carolina Hurricanes win, the New York Rangers are starting to hear footsteps. They hold a three-point lead on the Hurricanes for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and if they don’t start racking up points, they might find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. 

The good news is they have a matchup with the New York Islanders on Thursday, which is a team they have dominated for a couple of years now. That dominance will continue in this matchup. 

The New York Rangers Can Win Because…: 

New York RangersThe New York Islanders have come unglued in the last couple of weeks. 

They have lost six of their last eight games and their only two wins came against the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning and the hapless Florida Panthers. 

In their last three games, they have scored a total of just four goals, which should be a concern considering they might have to face Henrik Lundqvist, who has played particularly well of late. 

The Rangers are coming off a 1-0 loss on Wednesday but that was just their first regulation loss in nine games. Lundqvist has won eight of his last 11 starts while giving up more than two goals just twice in that span. He’s allowed just two goals in his last four games while posting a GAA of 1.63 in his last 11 games. 

The Rangers have won the last four meetings between the teams and 12 of the last 17 overall. They have also taken six of the last eight on Long Island. After losing on Wednesday night, there is urgency for them to get the win on Thursday and keep themselves ahead of the Hurricanes, who are in ninth place in the conference and just three points back. Meanwhile, the Islanders are just playing out the season and might not care as much if they chalk up another loss. 

The New York Islanders Can Win Because…: 

New York IslandersThey are a competitive team nowadays. Since starting the year 17-29-7, they are 12-7-5 in their last 24 contests. At home, they are 4-2-1 in their last seven games. 

That home-ice advantage could be the key as they have played better at their own confines compared road games all season long. The Isles are 13-19-7 on the road but they are 16-17-5 at home. They are 15-20 when at home with a total of 5.5. 

Goaltender Al Montoya has been a nice find for the Islanders, who have had a slew of injuries this season all across their roster, but in net in particular. Montoya is 8-4-4 with a 2.35 GAA since signing with the team in February. For a team that has labored to find any consistency in net throughout most of the season, that’s some real positive production. 

The Rangers haven’t been scoring much recently as they have just two goals in their last four games. All the Islanders might need is a lucky bounce or two and they might pull this one out. 

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction: 

While it’s true that the Rangers aren’t scoring much these days, that can change on Thursday. The Islanders are battered and bruised on the blue line where Mark Eaton, Andrew MacDonald, Mike Mottau and Mark Streit are out. On top of that, the Rangers have scored 25 goals against the Islanders in the five meetings this season. 

The Rangers need this game far more than the Islanders do and they are playing better hockey right now. After a tough loss on Wednesday night, look for the Rangers to find a way to win on Long Island. 

NHL odds makers are rolling with the Rangers tonight, and NHL bettors should expect them to play their hardest to keep the distance in the playoff race.

Pick: Rangers