NHL Odds & Picks For Islanders vs. Rangers: Go Right Back to the Isles?

NHL Odds & Picks For Islanders vs. Rangers: Go Right Back to the Isles? article feature image
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Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: The New York Islanders

Islanders vs. Rangers Odds

Islanders Odds -115 [BET NOW]
Rangers Odds -105 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 6 (+100/-120) [BET NOW]
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NHL Center Ice
Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The New York Islanders reminded NHL fans what they are all about in their season opener when they shut out the New York Rangers 4-0. The Islanders took an early 3-0 lead and gave the Rangers no life as they flexed their defensive prowess en route to a laugher in the opener.

The two rivals will face off for a second time on Saturday night with the Rangers looking to rebound from an awful performance on opening night. After Thursday’s win, the Islanders are slightly bigger favorites for Saturday’s game than they were before the opener.

Will Barry Trotz and the Islanders prevail again?

New York Islanders

The Islanders might be the prototype of a team built for the weird uncertainty of the COVID-world. This is a well-coached team built primarily on veterans. There are no stars and they are perfectly content playing a boring game. They don’t need a raucous environment to wake them up. There’s no extra glitz or glamour to their game.

It might explain why the team exceeded expectations and performed so well in the NHL Bubble. That form carried over to Opening Night.

The Islanders season from last year can best be broken into three parts. In October and November, they went on a 17-game point streak and put themselves in tremendous position for the rest of the season. After that spectacular run, the Isles actually had a losing record until the regular season was postponed and their grip on a playoff spot was slipping fast. In the postseason, the Isles were two wins away from eliminating the eventual Cup Champion Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Who are the real Islanders? Common sense says they are somewhere in the middle, but probably closer to the “good” version. The Bubble was the first opportunity the team had to play with a healthy Adam Pelech and Casey Cizikas as well as the then-recently-acquired Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Andy Greene.

The Isles under Barry Trotz have befuddled the analytics crowd, as the team rarely out-possesses its opponent or out-chances them but they often end up on top at the end of the night on the real scoreboard. Strong goaltending and team defense is hard to account for, and that’s exactly what the Isles are all about.

Since last year’s playoffs started, the Isles have actually been improved in the underlying metrics. They had 52.3% of the expected goals and 55% of the high danger chances in the Bubble. In the opener against the Rangers, the Isles posted a 60.93% shot attempt rate and 75.15% of the high danger chances when adjusted for score effects. The final expected goals were 2.91 – 1.11 in favor of the Isles.

New York Rangers

The Rangers were a trendy pick by many to make some noise this season. While I never fully bought it, there’s reason to be excited about this team.

Last season, the Rangers allowed an expected 2.74 goals per 60 minutes at 5 on 5. This was the second worst mark in the league, better than only the Chicago Blackhawks. They will rely heavily on their goaltender to bail them out. In the opener, Shesterkin was not sharp in the first period and the Rangers found themselves in a 3-0 hole before they got their legs going. This will be all too common if goaltending is subpar.

Offensively, the Rangers have some elite talent that drives a dangerous unit. Artemi Panarin is an MVP contender as one of the best dynamic talents in the league. He scored 95 points in 69 games last season. Joining Panarin to drive the offense are players like Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich.

The Rangers will look to youngsters Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko to take their offense to another level. Lafreniere was the first overall pick in the 2020 draft and is amongst the favorites to win the Calder Trophy. Kakko was the second-overall pick in 2019 who had a disappointing rookie season. The Rangers are hoping for a big jump in his sophomore season.

Just like the Islanders have shown a talent for playing games in this COVID environment, questions are starting to arise about the Rangers ability to handle the weirdness.

It’s a small sample size, but the Rangers are now 0-5 in the five games they’ve played since the regular season was suspended.

Rangers-Islanders Best Bet

Despite the stylistic differences of these teams, the oddsmakers expect a tight game on Saturday night. It’s hard to take much out of Thursday’s game as the game was over basically ten minutes in.

The Rangers made a bunch of changes to their forward lines in practice on Friday and defenseman Tony DeAngelo skated with the taxi squad. It seems like head coach David Quinn was not happy with what he saw out of his team and I’d expect them to come out with a better effort.

I think the Islanders are a slightly better team, and this line as it currently sits is about right. I’d sit it out and see which way the line moves. If the high flying Rangers attract money, I’d look to play the Islanders at -110 or better. At this current price, I don’t see much value but if I had to make a pick, I’d lay the small number with the Islanders who look to have picked up where they left off in the Bubble.

The Bet: NY Islanders ML (hold out for -110)

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