The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning meet up in Florida tonight, in a contest featuring an important game for both teams. The Lightning are working to keep 1st place in the Atlantic, while the Islanders are just trying to stay alive at this point. Thanks to an uninspiring stretch of games for the Isles lately, they’re staring at a situation where they could fall out of contention completely, if they keep at this pace. At 39-24-9 they sit comfortably, but that seat is beginning to get a little warm. The Islanders have gone 2-6 over their last eight games, with the offense being too stagnant. When you think of the Islanders, you might be quick to jump to the conclusion that this is a team packed with offense. There are some offensive threats on the roster, including John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, but the numbers do not lie with the Islanders. The offense just hasn’t been as productive as they would have hoped this season.
In Tampa, the Lightning just came home last game after four games on the road. The Lightning went 2-2 on the road trip. They got a massive win against the Red Wings in their return home, a 6-2 thumping. The Lightning have been a bit bothered lately as well, going 3-5 in their last eight games. Neither team evokes much confidence as we head to the end of the regular season. The Lightning still look like a team that is hitting themselves for not capitalizing and winning the Stanley Cup last season. The Lightning are going to have to do it the hard way this season, as somewhat of an underdog going into the playoffs. The NHL playoffs, though, are always so open, that the Lightning are still a threat. Hopefully in their case, the experience they gained from a year ago rubs off on them the right way.
Talking about uninspired performances, how about the Dallas Stars? The Coyotes took care of business, dumping the Stars 3-1. I said to be cautious with the Stars yesterday in my write-up, but unfortunately opted for the total instead of a play on the Yotes ML. We were on an impressive string of wins, can’t win them all, but it would sure by nice. Let’s come back with a win tonight.
N.Y. Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning NHL Pick
The Islanders have liked playing the Lightning of late. They have won three straight against the Lightning, with one of those coming earlier in the year in November. This was a road win for the Islanders. However, the offense has looked remarkably poor lately. In their last five games, they have averaged only 1.4 goals per game. They hit more than 2 goals only once, their last, which was a winning result against the Ottawa Senators. In their last ten games, they have scored 2.20 goals per game, while allowing 2.60 goals per game.
I noted how the perception with the Islanders is that they’re all about offense. And in a lot of ways, you could say the same with the Lightning. In reality, the Lightning are reliant on goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop owns one of the top GAA’s in the NHL, posting a GAA of 2.02. After a couple abysmal outings against the Leafs and Stars on the road, the Lightning have come back looking better, allowing only 2 goals over their last two games. The Lightning are 2nd in the league in goals allowed, giving up only 2.33 per game, trailing only the LA Kings. I think the Lightning put together a nice run after their shaky trip on the road. I see them making this their 3rd straight win, solidifying their claim for 1st in the Atlantic.
PICK: LIGHTNING TO WIN -150