[7:00 PM] Islanders @ Rangers

Jaroslav HalakWho will WIN this matchup?

New York Islanders

@ New York Rangers


Starting Goalies:

Jaroslav Halak (NYI): Confirmed

Henrik Lundqvist(NYR): Confirmed


Current odds:

New York Islanders: (+115)

New York Rangers: (-135)


The New York Rangers and New York Islanders are both coming off 100-point seasons, yet each team finds itself with something to prove entering their season opener Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The Islanders look to continue their recent domination against the Rangers, winning all four matchups for their first season sweep in the series.

Captain and leading scorer John Tavares is back, but New York must replace its second- and third-leading scorers in Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, who combined for 42 tallies and 116 points last season. Brought in to fill the void were Andrew Ladd, who netted at least 23 goals in five of his last six seasons, and 37-year-old Jason Chimera, a 20-goal scorer for the Washington Capitals last season. Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy are among the returnees on the blue line, but the goaltending must be sorted out. Jaroslav Halak struggled through an injury-plagued season in 2015-16, but played superbly at the World Cup, while Thomas Greiss backstopped the team to a playoff series win over Florida.

New York finished only three points behind the Penguins in the regular season but were demolished in the five-game playoff series, getting outscored 21-10. Brassard was shipped to Ottawa for center Mika Zibanejad, a top faceoff man who posted career highs with 21 goals and 30 assists last season, while former 22-goal scorer Brandon Pirri and Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey of Harvard were imported as free agents. Lundqvist won 35 goals last season and pushed his career shutout total to 59 but he looked quite mortal at times while sporting the highest goals-against average of his career at 2.48 — a number that soared partly due to a dip in efficiency from veteran blue-liners Dan Girardi and Marc Staal.

Rangers D Kevin Klein will miss the season opener after an MRI exam revealed a back strain.

Tavares has 13 goals and 33 points in 35 games versus the Rangers.

Rangers C Derek Stepan is one of eight active players to notch a hat trick in the season opener.


StreakSmarts Pick: New York Rangers

Confidence: 5/10

StreakSmarter Pick