Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#55 N.Y. Islanders 5.5 vs.
#56 N.Y. Rangers -110
Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 7:05pm EST
Madison Square Garden, New York
Written by Adam Rauzino

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The New York Islanders will collide with the New York Rangers as the East Division foes open the regular season on Thursday night from Madison Square Garden. The Islanders had a strong 2019-2020 season, registering 80 points. They lost to the Lightning in the third round of the playoffs.

The Rangers posted 79 points last season and fell to the Hurricanes in the qualifying round. The Rangers went 3-1 against the Islanders last season.

Islanders Return Core, Extend Barzal

The New York Islanders enter the new season with lofty expectations. The Islanders eliminated the Capitals and Flyers in the first and second round of the playoffs before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning. New York doesn’t have a ton of star power, however, they play hard and are solid defensively.

The Islanders avoided a contract holdout by signing Mathew Barzal to a three-year contract extension last week. Barzal has carried this team offensively, leading the team in points in all three seasons. The 23-year old center posted a solid 60 points in 68 regular-season games last season and collected four points in four clashes against the division-rival Rangers.

The Islanders return most of last season’s core. Brock Nelson will be aiming for another big season after earning a career-high 54 points in 2019-2020. Captain Anders Lee scored 20 goals last season and Josh Bailey is another key forward.

The Islanders no longer have Thomas Greiss between the pipes. They added Ilya Sorokin from Russia’s KHL who is expected to split the duties with veteran Semyon Varlamov. The 32-year old netminder finished last season with a decent 2.62 GAA and a .914 save percentage to go with a 10-14-6 record. Varlamov will start this game. New York scored an average of 2.8 goals last year, placing them 22nd in the league. They limited opponents to 2.8 goals, landing them 9th in the NHL.

Rangers Poised for Big Season

The New York Rangers head into this season with plenty of optimism after they did not qualify for the playoffs in 2019-2020, falling to the Hurricanes in the qualifying round in the bubble. That defeat led to the Rangers winning the draft lottery and drafting Alexis LaFreniere out of Quebec with the first overall pick The 19-year old winger has a ton of speed and is expected to contribute immediately.

The Rangers are led by the thrilling Artemi Panarin. The 29-year old star had a tremendous season in his first year on Broadway, collecting 95 points including 32 goals. Panarin recorded eight points in three games against the Islanders last year. Ryan Strome is one of the more underrated players in the league and is coming off a career-best 59 points. New York has a solid defenseman in Anthony DeAngelo who tallied 53 points last year.

Longtime Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist has departed the franchise. The good news is Igor Shesterkin is ready for the spotlight in goal. The 25-year old goalie was outstanding in his first taste of the NHL last year, recording a 2.52 GAA and .932 save percentage accompanied by a 10-2 record. Alexander Georgiev will also start plenty of games in the crease. The Rangers averaged 3.3 goals per game last season, ranking them fifth in the NHL. They allowed an average of 3.1 goals, placing them down at 23rd overall.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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The Islanders are a very difficult team to play against and know how to win. They were able to eliminate the Capitals and Flyers in last year’s playoffs before losing to the Cup champion Lightning. The Rangers are solid but are going with a rookie goalie in Shesterkin. He was solid last season however it was a small sample size of 12 games.

Furthermore, the Islanders are definitely the better defensive team in this matchup. They are a defensive-minded team including several two-way forwards while the Rangers are more of a team that relies on scoring to win games. This benefits the Islanders considering this is the first game of the season with no preseason games to build chemistry.

Prediction: New York Islanders -110

Full-Game Total Pick

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There were no preseason games this year in the NHL, meaning it could take quite some time for both teams to find a groove. This should lead to a lower scoring game as players find a comfort level with linemates. The under is a safer bet when the Islanders are involved. The under is 9-3 in the Islanders’ last 12 Thursday games.

In addition, the Rangers' goal-scoring was an issue in the latter stages of last season. They are also a team that scores plenty of power-play goals, but the Islanders have a strong penalty kill. The under is 4-0 in the Rangers’ last four games overall.

Prediction: Under 5.5

Full-Game Prop Bet

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The over on Matt Barzal’s point total is worth a look. Matthew Barzal will get a ton of ice time as he should see over 20 minutes including power-play action. He is happy after receiving his contract extension last week. Also, the young star posted a solid four points in four games against the Rangers last season.

Prediction: Matt Barzal Point Total Over 0.5

Half-Time Total Bet

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I am staying with the under on the first period total. As mentioned there was no preseason to get acclimated with teammates on the ice and the first period could be quite uneventful as a result. Also, the Islanders' lowest-scoring period last season was in the first with only 57 goals.

Prediction: Under 1.5
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Written By Adam Rauzino , "Adam Rauzino"

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball, and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.