Free NHL Picks: Take Islanders Over Rangers In Cross-Town Rivalry

Doug Upstone

Sunday, March 6, 2016 1:40 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 6, 2016 1:40 PM UTC

Extremely important contest in the Metropolitan Division with this battle in the Big Apple between Islanders and the Rangers. Also rather compelling if you are generating NHL picks on Sunday.

N.Y. Islanders vs. N.Y. Rangers  
The Rangers are the home team and they have a five-point lead over the Isles and the second place team in the division has home ice advantage in opening round of Stanley Cup tournament. The longer established Blueshirts arrive on an uptick after a big road win at Washington Friday.

The visiting Islanders have enjoyed two days of preparation having won five of six. The NHL odds have the home team favored, but will they persevere?


Islanders Feeling Good and Consistently Improving
As of today, there are only four teams in the NHL that are in the Top 10 in scoring and fewest goals allowed and the New York Islanders (35-27 SU) are among them. (Washington, Chicago and Tampa Bay also fit) The Isles have known for scoring the last few years with a good core of young players, but are starting to see the defense develop, which could take them to new plateau in the league hierarchy.

The team that now calls Brooklyn home has two good goalies in Jaroslav Halak (.919 save percentage) in 34 games and his backup of sorts in Thomas Greiss, who actually leads the league in save percentage a .930 in his 28 starts.

The Islanders have a good balanced offense with Kyle Okposo and John Tavares leading the way with 50 points each. Center Brock Nelson is the team's second-leading scoring with 21 goals and though Cal Clutterbuck has only 18 points on the season, 11 of them have come by putting puck in the back of the net.


Rangers Need to Take Advantage of Home Ice
The Rangers (38-27 SU) are back home to face their closest rival, who has been rather respectable on the road at 16-12-3. However, the Blueshirts have been exceptional at home at 23-6-3 and their scoring differential of + 0.97 on home ice is second only to Washington at 1.02.

A big part of the Rangers success has been goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, but his status is unknown presently missing the Washington upset Friday and the third period, in loss at Pittsburgh, when he had temper tantrum after giving up three goals in short span of second period to Penguins and developed neck spasms. Backup Antti Raanta might be called on again to patrol the crease and he has a 1.67 goals-against average in winning his last three starts.

Offensively, the Rangers are rather balanced, which gives them a variety of ways to score. Winger Mats Zuccarello is their top point producer with 48 and second-leading scorer with 21 goals. The top scorer is center Derick Brassard with 22 in the net. However, the Blueshirts generate plays in different fashions which is why defensemen Keith Yandle (36 points) and captain Ryan McDonagh (31) are also among the leading scorers.


What to Expect and Winner
Defense and goaltending has been the key winning formula in figuring the outcome between these rivals, as in seven of the last nine battles, the loser has scored one or fewer goals.

The home-standing Rangers had a confidence-building victory over Washington, but the Islanders are unafraid coming into Madison Square Garden on two fronts. First, they have won five of six on the road against the Blueshirts and they have taken five of past half dozen on the road. This correlates into how this series has worked with visitor sporting 11-4 record and could definitely see this happening again.

Let's make the New York Islanders the choice for NHL picks for tonight as the underdog in the cement jungle.

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Free NHL Pick: Islanders +122
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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