NHL Picks: Can't Overlook Islanders 2-1 Winning Advantage On Rangers

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, April 7, 2016 3:36 PM GMT

A pivotal battle in the Metropolitan Division takes place in a subway series featuring the Islanders vs. Rangers. Let’s review the NHL odds and cash a ticket.

New York Islanders (44-35 SU, +0.8 units)
As the homestretch nears, the Islanders are playing some of their best hockey of the season. The Brooklyn based team has won five of their last six with the most recent coming as a result of a stunning 4-3 overtime victory against the most feared team in the league, the Washington Capitals. The Isles rewarded those who have an eye for live underdogs in their NHL picks and returned a healthy +160 as the road pup on Tuesday night.

Due to the stellar play of rookie goaltender John Gibson, making his NHL debut against the Capitals, the Islanders will be returning to the playoffs for the first time in four years. German netminder Thomas Greiss has been stellar down the stretch for the Isles but a reprieve was needed after he backstopped New York to victory the night before in a 5-2 win over the Lightning. His platoon mate for much of the season, Jaroslav Halak, has been sidelined with a groin pull and third-stringer Jean-Francois Berube was out after sustaining a lower body injury. Thus, the 23-year-old Fin John Gibson was tapped to make his first NHL appearance against Alex Ovechkin and the elite offense of the Washington Capitals. He turned aside 29 shots in the playoff clinching win.

 

New York Rangers (45-35 SU, +2.4 units)
After dropping three straight, all as NHL odds favorites, with losses to Pittsburgh, Carolina and Buffalo New York traveled to Columbus on Monday night and snapped their skid with a 4-2 road win. They then defeated the Lightning the following night with a 3-2 victory in front of the fan faithful at Madison Square Garden.

Derek Stepan lit the lamp twice for New York and assisted on the game winning goal by Chris Kreider. But it took another superb performance by goaltender extraordinaire Henrik Lundqvist who turned aside 39 shots and held Tampa Bay scoreless in the third period. The Rangers found themselves down 2-1 headed into the final period but rallied to get a critical win and kept a two-point distance between them and the Islanders, who still have a game in hand. It was a bit of revenge for the Blueshirts who bowed in seven games to the Lightning in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. The team’s captain Ryan McDonagh sustained an upper body injury on Monday night against the Blue Jackets and missed Tuesday night’s tango with Tampa. He will reportedly be sidelined tonight and for the regular season finale against Detroit on Saturday.

 

Betting Analysis
This is the fourth and final meeting between these clubs with the Isles holding a 2-1 advantage. In their last outing the Rangers hosted the Isles, as they will again tonight, and dropped a 6-4 decision back on March 6th. The Islanders are 5-1 straight up (+5.4 units) in their last six trips to Madison Square Garden and will have No. 1 netminder Thomas Greiss tending the twine after his respite in their upset victory over the Capitals.

These teams are statistically similar with the Rangers owning the 6th best offense in the league versus the 10th for the Islanders. Defensively the Isles are tighter with the 12th best goals against average versus the 16th for the Rangers. However, the home team tonight is prone to severe lapses on the penalty kill allowing opposition power plays to score on almost 22 percent of their opportunities and rank 26th in that category, though the Islanders’ power play ranks just 17th yet their penalty kill is among the best ranking 2nd in the NHL.

I am going to side with the Islanders here who will be skating into hostile territory but against a team who has given an enormous workload to their starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Though Lundqvist has proven he can handle such a load throughout his career he is nevertheless coming off an outing in which he faced 41 shots and had to be at his level best to win the game for New York. The Rangers’ defense is allowing a ton of shots recently and that bodes well for an Islanders club that has scored nine goals over their last pair of games. Let’s grab the juice and the road dog here. We've got a big slate of games happening tonight, be sure to visit our daily NHL picks so that you don't miss out

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Free NHL Pick: Islanders +129
Best Line Offered: at Heritage