New York Rangers (+116) at New York Islanders (-128, 5.5 o/u)
New York, New York! The latest battle for the Big Apple goes tonight as the Rangers and Islanders square off for the fourth time this season (7:00 p.m. at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum).
The arch-rivals head into tonight’s game separated just by four points in the standings. The Islanders are on top of the Metropolitan Division with 75 points and a 37-18-1 record; however, the Rangers have 71 points and two games in hand.
Both teams come into tonight’s game on fire. The Isles have won four straight and five of six, and they crushed the Blue Jackets (6-3) in their last outing on Saturday.
“Obviously a huge one,” said Islanders captain John Tavares of facing the Rangers. “We know what the atmosphere will be like. For the most part, we dictated [the last] game [a 4-1 win for the Islanders]. Even though they fought back and got into it, we seemed to keep the momentum and not let them really try to turn the tide.”
The Rangers come in on a three-game winning streak of their own, downing Toronto, Colorado, and Arizona (all on the road). They’re hoping to make it a perfect 4-0 road trip tonight and to inch one step closer to the division lead.
However, the team has struggled epically against their cross-town rivals this season, losing all three meetings by a combined score of 13-4.
“We’ve turned pucks over, we haven’t had great starts, we’ve given up goals in bunches,” said Rangers winger Rick Nash to NHL.com. “We’ve lost three times now, so it’s definitely a bit of a test for us. If we stick to our game plan, stick to our style that works, we’ll have a better chance.”
The Islanders seem to have the Rangers’ number this year. Look for Jack Capuano’s young and confident squad to pull out another win. The Islanders at -128 looks like the best option on the board.
(Photo credit: By Robert Kowal (Rick Nash) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)