While most of New York will be shoveling out of a tough snow storm, we have a hockey game going on in Long Island, New York and it features two of the best and most improved teams in the Rangers and Islanders. Let's take a look and provide our pick in this long standing rivalry.
Ice-time is set for 7:00 p.m.ET tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. NHL odds list the Islanders as a -119 betting favorite and the total for the game is 5.5 .With the way that Rick Nash and John Tavares have been playing, this game might go over the total off of these two players alone as they've been finding the net on a regular basis.
There's no confirmation on whether the King, Henrik Lundqvist, will be in net, but one can only assume that Lundvist won't miss a heated rivalry game such as this.
For the Isles, it is confirmed that Jaroslav Halak will be between the pipes and he has had success against the Blueshirts this season with a 2-0 mark and a 1.50 GAA and .957 SV%. Halak (25-9, 2.41 GAA) has been outstanding all season long and is a major reason why the Islanders sit on top of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference with 63 points.
As for Lundqvist, he's been a beast for his entire career and this year is no different as the Rangers look to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Lundqvist is 23-9-3 with a 2.25 GAA. In his last 16 games, Lundvist is an amazing 14-2 with a 1.71 GAA.
Will we see a high scoring game or will we see a battle of the goalies is the question? One thing for sure is the Islanders will be without winger Kyle Okposo, who is the 2nd leading scorer on their team.
Rick Nash vs. John Tavares
It doesn't get much better than this as both players are coming off of successful All Star games. While Tavares netted 4 goals, Nash had 2 goals of his own. Both players have had success all season and haven't stopped in the New Year.
Prior to the All-Star game, Tavares had back to back games with a goal and an assist. He's on a pace for 80 points this season and has been red hot in 2015 with 6 goals and 7 assists in just 9 games. Something has to give as Tavares and the Islanders offense have been on point all season long, averaging 3.2 goals per game which is 2nd in the league.
Tavares will need assistance and center Ryan Strome has been solid all season long. In two games against the Rangers this season, he's had 2 assists and he's also been a consistent contributor as of late with 1 goal and 4 assists in his last 5 games.
The Rangers are right there with the Isles as New York is 6th in the NHL at 3 goals per game and their defense has been one of the best in the league, allowing just 2.3 goals per game.
Rick Nash had a bit of a drought before the All-Star break with just one huge game (2 goals) against Pittsburgh on January 18th, but he has an outstanding season, beating opposing goalies on 28 occasions.
I would give the edge to Tavares where talent is concerned and Tavares has had a better 2015, but Nash is the veteran that has the knack of coming up with the big goal and that's what the Rangers will need when they face an Islanders team which is full of confidence. Nash carries a +18 plus/minus differential and has been equally effective on the road, with 14 goals and 7 assists in 21 games, so consider this when placing your NHL picks. This game is a hockey fan's delight and the betting public will be on both sides as this should be a tight matchup.
NHL Pick- Rangers +102 at 5Dimes