The Carolina Hurricanes conclude their seven game road trip against a very good team Thursday night. The Canes get a nice going back home present with a meeting with the Islanders tonight. The Isles have transformed their team into a basement dweller to one of the better teams in the NHL in a couple years time. Last season was their coming out party, but this season there are expectations for them now. Playing well when there isn’t much pressure is one thing, but doing it when there are expectations is another. The expectations for the Islanders is for them to win and win now. The young Islanders got some valuable experience in the playoffs last season, and they’re hoping it translates into a deeper run this season. Jonathan Tavares has asserted himself as one of the best in the NHL and now he needs to assert himself as a player that can take the Isles to the next level.
If the first few weeks of the season is any indication, Tavares is well on his way to doing just that. He has been one of the most productive stars in the NHL, accumulating 4 goals and 6 assists already in 2015. Tavares failed to record a point against the Flames in the Islanders last contest, but it wasn’t needed, as they blanked them by a score of 4-0. The Isles have gotten off to a strong start with a record of 6-2-1, winning six of their last seven games. That is what is typically expected of the Islanders now. Conversely, it can be noted that the Hurricanes have a lot of work to do.
Beating the Red Wings was a nice touch the other night, but those kind of wins are going to happen less often than not. Additionally, the Red Wings have problems of their own they have to sort out. So, we’re still in the infancy of the NHL season, but the picture is clear to be regarding the Islanders and Hurricanes. I see the Isles having a solid season, with the opposite outcome in Carolina. The Hurricanes will be happy to be home, but before that flight they play tonight in Brooklyn against the Isles.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders Pick
The Islanders have a potent offense, but the defense has improved drastically from the first half of last season. I was worried the Islanders were never going to find any success then because the defense was getting torched on a nightly basis. Sure, there was offense, but their defense was in the bottom 5 of the NHL. Jaroslav Halak has looked great and came back to put up a shutout after he sat out four games due to an upper body injury. It was the second shutout for Halak already this year, the second in three games for him. He holds a stellar 1.77 GAA and 3-1 record. The Islanders have averaged 3.44 goals per game this season.
For the Hurricanes, goal scoring is going to continue to be difficult. I see them finishing in the bottom 3 of the NHL as far as goals for is concerned. Thus far they have scored only 1.89 goals per game. In five of their nine games this season, they have scored just 1 or no goals. I think this price should be higher in favor of the Islanders. People seen the Hurricanes win against the Red Wings and see them as a decent team, but they aren’t. A big price on the puck line for the Islanders, where I see a ton of value to be had.
PICK: ISLANDERS -1.5 (+158)