Following a miserable home loss on Tuesday evening to the lowly Montreal Canadiens, the desperate New York Islanders will take to the ice again on Thursday night, hoping to reverse their fortunes.
It wasn’t pretty in Brooklyn against the Habs. The Isles were dominated in every facet by a Montreal team keenly looking to play out their season. Montreal is not in playoff contention, though you wouldn’t have known it from their hunger in puck pursuit and willingness in the dirty areas of the ice. New York knows they need to ‘up’ their intensity in the final month of the regular season, or else this talented group could be watching the playoffs from home.
For the Sens, it’s been a down couple of months for their squad as well. Head coach D.J. Smith has done mostly well to keep his group afloat, but recent injuries and trades at the deadline have left the Sens without much depth or talent within their lineup. It’s expected they’ll be without goalie Magnus Hogberg and key forward Anthony Duclair on Thursday evening. Unlike the Isles, the Sens will not be going to the post-season in April, and do know that a loss would further enhance their draft lottery chances.
Though the pressure is squarely on the Isles right now, that’s not an unfamiliar feeling for this veteran-laden group. Barry Trotz remains one of the top coaches in the sport, and should have his group settled and re-focused following Tuesday’s debacle. New York will also be trying to win this game for their new team member, Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Of course, Pageau was traded from the Sens to the Isles a couple of weeks ago, and you can bet Pageau would love nothing more than securing two points.
Continue reading on beneath the odds as we breakdown this crucial matchup for the Islanders as they take on the Sens. We’ll review the keys to the game, line movement, betting odds, and a winning selection as you head into your weekend. Enjoy the on-ice action, folks!
Islanders vs. Senators Betting Odds:
New York Islanders (-139)
@ Ottawa Senators (+126)
Over 6 (+100)
Under 6 (-120)
Islanders vs. Senators Pick:
Though the pick-up of Pageau to bolster New York’s centre-ice position was expensive, it was supposed to make this pesky group even tougher to play against. Through the first few games, that has yet to materialize. Pageau has a couple of assists, and sports a minus-5 rating thus far. He’s a talented player, playing with solid linemates, and don’t be surprised to see the big-game player rise to the occasion in a must-win spot against his former team.
Without the likes of Hogbergin goal and Duclair up the ice, the Sens are a depleted group simply playing out their season. While their shot metrics were solid earlier in the season, they have really taken a hit of late, with their 5v5 play. They get caved in at shots allowed and chances conceded, and that is definitely an area where the talented Islanders can and will take advantage of on Thursday night.
Although Trotz will not have the benefit of last change in this contest, it won’t really matter given all of the Islanders’ impressive depth and talent scattered throughout their lineup. Regardless of who hops over the boards, the Isles should be able to control the matchup and generate positive scoring chances on most shifts.
It is also worth noting that Ottawa’s penalty killing is in a serious funk at the moment. They’re conceding all kinds of goals with the man-advantage, and that is an area New York should look to exploit. The Isles have been fortunate to draw their fair share of penalties this year, and if they can establish their PP1 lineup – they could bank a couple of easy ones to relieve their pressure.
Expect big outings from New York’s leadership core. The likes of Matt Barzal, Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson should be able to use their size and skill to really lean on a weakened Ottawa blue-line, that is currently asking too much of sophomore sensation Thomas Chabot. If the Isles can wear down that defensive corps, expect Ottawa to turn the puck over and make mistakes. The pressure is on New York firmly at the moment, and there’s no sign of it letting up in a tough Metropolitan division race. That said, this is a focused group and one that represents good value once again as short road favourites. Expect New York to vault back into the playoff race on Thursday evening.