NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Islanders vs. Rangers (March 17)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Islanders vs. Rangers (March 17) article feature image

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Igor Shesterkin.

  • The Rangers host the Islanders in a battle of New York at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
  • Can Igor Shesterkin hold the Islanders' surging offense in check?
  • NHL betting analyst Jonny Lazarus breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Islanders vs. Rangers Odds

Islanders Odds+120
Rangers Odds-145
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The two New York teams are set to meet for the first time since Thanksgiving Eve, when the Rangers took advantage of an Islanders team that was battling the challenges of Covid.

This battle between the two Russian goaltenders is gearing up to make this a St. Patrick's Day classic.

Can the New York Islanders Go on a Run?

The New York Islanders have finally found a bit of a scoring touch, and it all stems from their captain, Anders Lee. Lee has been on fire in the team's last five games, in which they are 3-1-1. He had eight goals and one assist in that span, and last week he was named the NHL's 3rd Star of the Week after recording his first career hat trick.

It took them a while, but this team is finally scoring goals. In the five-game span aforementioned, the Islanders have scored a combined 22 goals. Goal scoring has been their biggest struggle all season long as they are only averaging 2.7 goals per game (24th).

Josh Bailey is another player who is starting to heat up after having a relatively quiet season. This season he has a total of six goals and 24 assists in 49 games, but in his last four games, he has three goals and four assists.

The one area that has been consistent this season for the Islanders is their goaltending and team defense. As a team, they only give up 2.72 goals per game (sixth) and that is thanks to goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin has had a ton of success on a team that hasn't had much, he does everything in his power to give his team a chance to win.

Sorokin is 20-12-7 on the year with a .925 Save Percentage and a +5.7 Goals Saved Above Expected. He will bring his best effort tonight against his good buddy and the league's best goalie, Igor Shesterkin.

Can the New York Rangers Slow Down Soaring Isles?

If there is one goalie who can put a stop to this hot streak for the Islanders, look no further than Shesterkin. Hey may not be at his best as of late, but what he has done all season has not gone unnoticed.

Shesterkin has not only been talked about for the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie, but he has also entered the conversation for the Most Valuable Player. Shesterkin is looking to continue his incredible success on home ice.

The Islanders aren't the only team in New York that has had an explosive offense lately. The Rangers have scored 19 goals in their last five games, and their big-name players are stepping up to the challenge.

Adam Fox has scored in two straight games, Artemi Panarin is coming off of a three-assist game and Mika Zibanejad has earned the nickname "Mika March" with his impressive goal scoring. Oh yeah, and Chris Kreider is one goal away from his 40th of the season.

On the defensive end, the Rangers are the league's third-best team in Goals Against per game as they are only allowing 2.58 each night, but they are allowing their opponents 32.1 Shots on Goal (22nd).

Shesterkin will be the difference maker in this contest. He has a league-best +30.7 GSAx and will hope to get his 30th win of the season.

Islanders vs. Rangers Pick

As good as both of these offenses have been lately, when it comes to a divisional rivalry game, things always get chippy, and the games tend to be a little more defensive. Add to the mix that this game features two of the game's brightest young goaltenders, who also happen to be great friends and want to outshine the other.

Shesterkin vs. Sorokin is the future of the Ranger-Islander rivalry for years to come. Now that the Islanders are finally healthy, this will be the true first battle this year between the two.

Both teams play a solid team defense, and with these guys in the blue paint, I don't expect either side to have much success in the offensive zone tonight. I am going with the under in a tightly contested, St. Patrick's Day classic at Madison Square Garden.

Pick: Under 5.5 -115

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