Free NHL Picks: Islanders at Rangers Odds
by George Monroy - 12/19/2013
New York fans may wish that Friday’s in-state rivalry game between the Islanders and Rangers meant something a little more than a matchup between two slumping teams. The Islanders have the second-fewest points in the entire NHL and are in the middle of a brutal slump that has seen only one victory in 14 games. Even worse, the team has not won in regulation since Nov. 12, which was nearly six weeks ago. If there were any silver lining for the Islanders it would be that they have at least been competitive over their last two matchups and sent both games into overtime.
The Rangers have not been much better off, but they are still at least within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The team is currently in a three-way tie for the ninth spot in the East and is only one-point out of the eighth position. The trouble for the Rangers is that they are squandering the gift of nine straight home games and only have one win through the first six games in that stretch. The team may be hoping that a visit from the slumping Islanders will turn things around. Let’s take a closer look at Friday’s matchup and figure out which side of the wager has the most value to bet on.
Islanders at Rangers Betting Story Lines
The Islanders are really struggling—there is simply no other way to describe it—and at this point things are getting embarrassing. The team has lost 18 of 23 games since the beginning of November and is slowly falling into the Buffalo Sabres territory of bad. New York has won five games since the beginning of November and has fallen to the Metropolitan Division with only 25 points on the year. The Islanders have played three goalies over the last five games and gave up 17 goals during that span.
The Islanders primary goaltender, Evgeni Nabokov, returned from injury last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens and has since only allowed two regulation goals. Nabokov’s return may have sparked the team as it has sent it last two games into overtime, which is a solid improvement, even though both matchups were still losses.
The Rangers are sitting on 34 points in the standings, which in the East is still within range of a playoff spot. New York’s goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, has given up 16 goals in his last five games while the team has a whole has allowed 20 goals during that same span. The Rangers simply do not have a reliable goalie at the movement, and their best option, Lundqvist, is dealing with neck issues and missed Thursday’s practice.
On offense the Rangers’ points leader, Brad Richards, has three assists and no goals during his last five games. The team as a whole is ranked 27th in the NHL in goals scored per game with 2.2, but it gives up 2.7 per game to its opponents. After Friday’s matchup against the Islanders, the Rangers will have two games left in its nine-game homestand. The team will then play five straight games on the road.
Islanders at Rangers NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Rangers opened up as a -178 moneyline favorite over the +162 underdog Islanders at BetOnline. The total was set at five goals, with the “over” being favored at -126. The Islanders are 1-11 over their last 12 games against the Metropolitan Division and 0-5 when playing on two days of rest. The unfortunate truth is that the team has a losing record in just about every category imaginable. They are 7-24 against the Eastern Conference, 5-16 against teams with losing records and 7-20 after scoring two goals or fewer in the previous game.
The Rangers are 5-2 over their last seven games against teams with a winning percentage below .400. However, the team is only 1-5 in its last six overall games, 1-5 on Friday games, and 1-6 over its last seven home games. Head-to-head, the “under” is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the two teams, while the Rangers have won four of the last five overall games and eight of the last nine home meetings. The road team is 4-0 during the last four games.
Free NHL Picks: Islanders at Rangers Predictions
The Rangers are probably going to win this matchup against a very bad Islanders team. The problem is that betting on it at -178 is too much of a risk. The Rangers have been struggling with their own issues on the ice, and it would not be shocking at all to see the visiting Islander pull off an upset. The best bet for Friday’s game is to take the under at a positive pay. Both teams have struggled to score goals as of late, and I do not expect that to change anytime soon. In fact, the Islanders’ goaltending has improved over its last two matchups and should be able to keep this game low-scoring. Take the under on this matchup.
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