Exactly a week ago, VSiN checked on the Islanders and Rangers. They were two teams heading in opposite directions. Unfortunately, they’re both now heading in the same direction. Down!
The Islanders lost again Tuesday night, falling 6-2 at home to the Montreal Canadiens as -140 favorites. They’ve won only twice in the last 10 games. The Isles just dropped consecutive home games to Boston and the Habs by a stunning 10-2 count.
Heading into Thursday night’s game at Ottawa, the Isles are 35-22-8 for the season (78 points), up about 1.5 betting units on the money line, but down about six units on the puck line (adjusted prices at plus or minus 1.5 goals). They would make the playoffs if the season ended right now, but they haven’t performed like a playoff team in weeks. A superlative 23-8-2 start has been followed by a long 12-14-6 stagger.
After Ottawa, the Isles play a huge home game Saturday vs. Carolina, one of the Eastern Conference challengers trying to chase them down. That’s followed by a four-game road gauntlet at Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Pittsburgh. A bad trip, and the Isles could become a chaser.
The Rangers had been on an incredible run of upset victories. But it’s tough to keep knocking off superior opponents without regression, particularly with previously hot goalie Igor Shesterkin on the injured list. Tuesday’s 3-1 home loss to the tough Blues as a +120 underdog was their third straight after losing twice as pups to the Flyers. They now stand at 35-27-4 (74 points), plus about 12 units on the money line (crushing market expectations this season), and plus 5.5 units on the puck line.
The Rangers have no margin for error in the crowded race for the back end of the Eastern brackets. Two home games are on tap Thursday vs. Washington and Saturday vs. New Jersey. Then, a three-game road trip to Dallas, Colorado, and Arizona that could obliterate or resuscitate their playoff hopes.
As we’ve seen in all betting sports, recent form is never a lock to continue. Hot teams cool off. Cold teams make changes that re-energize. It’s certainly possible that either the Islanders or Rangers could be a money-maker the next two weeks.
But, for now, the Isles seem to be an auto-fade, particularly against quality. That status may continue into the first round of the playoffs as potential sweep fodder. They have about a month to get things turned around. It’s been 10 weeks since the Isles have won more than two games in a row.
The Rangers may be playing on an empty tank. Betting markets should be respected. They’ve been pricing the Rangers like a nonfactor all season. As fun (and profitable) as that string of upsets was, the party could end on that trip west. If you see a spark reignite, then consider taking plus odds on the money line.