The New York Islanders head into Boston as the hottest team in the NHL. No longer a team to take lightly, the Islanders have the best record in the NHL since mid-December. At 16-3-2, no other team has been better than the Isles. Expect the unexpected in the NHL, right? I think everyone was put on notice to that fact after an expansion team went to the Stanley Cup Final.
In the comeback story of the year, the Islanders are sitting atop the Metropolitan with 66 points. They’ve rebranded themselves into a defensive powerhouse in the absence of John Tavares. While the Isles were a good team with Tavares, they’ve never tasted success like this. We’ll see if it lasts, though, as there is a lot of hockey left to be played.
Robin Lehner has been leading the surge with some stellar play in net. After the Sabres gave up on him, Lehner has found a home with the Islanders. He is going to want a sizable pay increase if he can keep this up, especially if it carries over into the playoffs. He certainly deserves it given the way he has been playing. Lehner also deserved a trip to the All-Star Game instead of Henrik Lundqvist.
However, being left out isn’t going to bother the team at all, as he got to use it as a chance to rest. Thomas Greiss, his backup, hasn’t been looking too bad in net either. With that said, credit should be given to the blue line, too. This is a unit that was ranked dead last in the league a season ago and now they’re sitting pretty atop the NHL. The Islanders face a Bruins team that shares a lot of the same characteristics as them. Their blueprints have been pretty similar, with solid play defensively and in net. If they meet in the playoffs, expect one of the more physical series this season. Head below for our free Islanders vs. Bruins pick.
N.Y. Islanders vs. Boston Bruins Pick
The Bruins currently sit just 3 points behind the Islanders in the Eastern Conference. They would be going to the playoffs as a wildcard if the season started today. The Blue Jackets are in possession of the other wildcard. Tuukka Rask has been at his best recently and is one of the better goaltenders in the NHL this season. Rask enters Tuesday with a solid GAA of 2.35 and 0.92 save percentage.
He hasn’t allowed more than 3 goals since December 23rd. Before that the last game he allowed more than 3 was way back on October 17th. The Bruins are 4th in the NHL with an average of just 2.58 goals allowed per game. In their last ten games, they’ve given up 2.4 goals per game as a team.
Rask is coming off a shutout against the Capitals in a 1-0 victory on Sunday. It doesn’t really compare to what the Islanders have been accomplishing defensively recently, though. Note that the Isles have been nearly impossible to crack, with only 1.2 goals allowed in their last ten games. The team has allowed an incredible 2 goals or less in each of their last nine games.
With that, 2.7 goals scored per game is more than enough. Lehner goes into Tuesday with a fantastic 2.02 GAA and 0.932 save percentage. He is setting himself for a potential run at the Vezina. Lehner has led the Isles to 1st in the league with 2.35 goals allowed per game as a team.
The UNDER has gone 4-1-1 in their last six meetings and 6-1 in their last even in Boston. I’ve had terrible luck on UNDER’s this season, which came to a head in the Islanders last outing. 4 goals in the final 5 minutes of the game led to a 4-2 final. Let’s try not to go there again. Nonetheless, everything leads to a tight low-scoring game featuring a duel between Lehner and Rask.