As the days tick down on the 2019-20 NHL regular season, many teams are furiously trying to squeeze into a tight playoff race in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Two of those teams will face-off Tuesday night in Brooklyn as the Habs travel to take on the Islanders.
It was supposed to be better seasons for both of these clubs, but that hasn’t really materialized – yet. The Islanders have deviated from the staunch defensive play that made their season a rousing success last year, and as a result Barry Trotz’s club is scratching and clawing to qualify for the playoffs in a tough Metropolitan division.
For the Canadiens, a strong start has fallen by the wayside. And though many of the players within their dressing room continue to say the right things and show brave faces, Montreal enters Tuesday night on a three-game losing streak and it isn’t pretty. Claude Julien continues to call out his players, as the group has struggled to put together a full sixty-minute effort. The Habs do sit near the top of the league in shot metrics, but the quality and finishing ability continues to be an issue.
With playoff hopes high, and both teams desperately needing to secure a victory – it should make for a quality game on Tuesday evening. Continue reading on below for further details, tactical analysis, and a betting prediction for a busy NHL slate. Enjoy the game!
Canadiens vs. Islanders Betting Odds:
Montreal Canadiens (+123)
@ New York Islanders (-137)
Over 5.5 (+100)
Under 5.5 (-120)
Canadiens vs. Islanders Pick:
Though the Islanders enter this game struggling, much like the Habs – there are some positive trends that should let this group get back on track. Though defensive centre Casey Cizikas remains out injured, team captain Anders Lee will return to the lineup and that should enhance New York’s struggling offense.
For the Habs, although they’ve shown better on the road this year compared to at home, they’ve been brutal overall as late. Two recent losses to the lowly Red Wings have marred their campaign, and after shutting down Victor Mete for the season, their mobility on defense will be an issue moving forward. It’s also worth noting that skilled forward Jonathan Drouin is likely to miss tonight’s clash with an ankle injury.
Though many underlying statistics are favourable to the Canadiens, their lack of quality and finishing ability within their finishing group has remained an issue. It won’t get any easier on Tuesday evening as they’ll be going against New York’s Semyon Varlamov in goal. Varlamov is in fine form at the moment, and has clearly established himself as one of the NHL’s top netminders. He’ll be a problem for the Habs tonight.
Where this game should be won or lost will be with how Montreal can handle both the Islanders’ depth and speed. With Barry Trotz having the ability to change last, don’t be surprised to see him jump the Habs’ bottom-six forward group and third-defense pairing to counter that with his high quality talent such as Matt Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson’s units. The Isles’ have an impressive speed group that should be a lot to deal with for Montreal’s defense.
Ultimately, with Montreal’s hopes fading quickly and the mood around the team souring, the Isles know they have to pounce on a wounded animal. The Islanders perhaps did not anticipate being mired in a playoff battle, but here they are. This is a group playing better of late, limiting chances, and returning with high quality ones. The addition of Pageau at the deadline last week has bolstered this group, and at a short favourite price – look for the Isles to take care of business and secure the two points.