The postseason is a certainty for the New York Rangers, but the same cannot be said for the New York Islanders, who attempt to move closer to a berth when they visit their crosstown rivals on Wednesday. The Rangers are firmly entrenched in the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference despite dropping three of their last four games (1-1-2), including Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime setback in New Jersey.
The Rangers’ struggles at home go back even farther, as they have gone 0-4-2 at Madison Square Garden since edging Washington 2-1 on Feb. 19 for their fifth straight win in their own building. While the Rangers are 13 points ahead of Toronto in the wild-card race, the Islanders trail the Maple Leafs by three for the second spot. They haven’t helped their chances of late, as they have earned points in only two of their last five contests (1-3-1). The home team won each of the first three contests of the four-game season series, with the Rangers posting a 5-3 victory in the 2016-17 opener – their only win in the last seven meetings – and the Islanders recording 4-2 triumphs on Dec. 6 and Feb. 16.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
LINE HISTORY: The Rangers opened as -120 moneyline favorites over their cross-bridge rivals from Long Island but by Wednesday morning that number was increased to -130. The total for this contest is set at 5.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Islanders – LW J. Bailey (Probable, illness), LW S. Prince (Questionable, leg), D J. Boychuk (Out Indefinitely, foot), C M. Grabovski (I-R, concussion).
Rangers – D K. Klein (Out Indefinitely, back), G H. Lundqvist (Out, hip), D D. Girardi (Questionable, ankle).
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (33-26-12, 37-29 O/U): John Tavares has been landing on the scoresheet with regularity, notching at least one point in seven of his last eight contests. The 26-year-old captain has scored four goals and set up four others in that span and is two assists shy of 300 for his career. Josh Bailey, whose next point will be his 300th in the NHL, missed Tuesday’s practice with an illness but is likely to play against the Rangers.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (45-24-4, 36-31 O/U): The Rangers registered 40 shots Tuesday – the sixth time this season they reached the mark – with Jesper Fast and defenseman Nick Holden being the only members of the club not to record one while Mika Zibanejad unleashed a team-high eight. The squad has been very effective on faceoffs of late, winning at least 50 percent of its draws in each of the last four games – including a 61.4 success rate against the Devils. Rick Nash is one away from reaching the 20-goal plateau for the 12th time in his 14-season career while coach Alain Vigneault will pass John Tortorella for fifth place on the franchise list Wednesday by coaching his 320th game with the club.
ICE GIRLS BATTLE:
The Rangers don’t have “Ice Girls” so we’ll just go with this “fan” image.
* Islanders are 1-5 in their last 6 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Rangers are 0-6 in their last 6 home games.
* Over is 11-5-1 in Islanders last 17 vs. Metropolitan.
* Under is 4-1 in Rangers last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400.
* Islanders are 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 71 percent of the Covers public is siding with the home team New York Rangers on the moneyline and 60 percent are on the Over. View full consensus data here.