So the Leafs do have some kind of offense. Well, it didn’t look that way in the month of January and start of February for that matter. The problem plaguing the Leafs for the majority of the season had been with their defense. Goal scoring was no issue for them, but during that horrific skid of games they couldn’t buy a goal if they tried. If they tried to play any defense before that wouldn’t work. During their losing streak there was evidence of some defense, but the offense wasn’t inept. Oh boy what a team the Leafs are. At least they have been consistent lately, it is just the wrong type of consistency the Leafs want, which has been consistently bad. However, in their most recent games they have appeared to show some signs of life. The most surprising move from the Leafs came when they announced Phil Kessel has been moved to the 4th line. That is a great sign when your supposed best player is dumped to the 4th line. Hopefully it sparks some motivation out of Kessel. And further, some motivation at the team as a whole in an attempt to solidify that this isn’t a joke. The Leafs have been playing like joke for the greater part of the last month, so we’ll see what happens.
The Islanders enter against the Leafs tonight with a record of 35-18-0-1. They control their own destiny at this point, play solid hockey and they’ll have a good spot in the playoffs. For a team as young as the Isles though, it is easier said than done. Keeping their composure and playing a full season is paramount. Not only a full season, but they will need to keep their emotions in check as the playoffs come. I don’t think they will be able to make a run deep in the playoffs, but the Islanders have a bright future nonetheless. I liken their season to the Avalanche a year ago, and I predict they may suffer a similar fate with an early exit in the playoffs. We’ll see though, they are a very talented team that could prove me wrong. Let’s see how they do against the Leafs tonight at home.
Toronto Maple Leafs @ N.Y. Islanders
The Leafs have looked like some resemblance of a team in their last two games. They beat the Edmonton Oilers, which I guess you can’t really brag about, 5-1, and then they competed against the New York Rangers for a 5-4 loss. Gee wiz, the offense finally shows up and then the defense rears its ugly head again. You can’t win with this team, and I don’t think they will be doing much of that for the remainder of the season. The Leafs did show something they haven’t been able to do a lot of it lately in those two games, which is score the puck. They scored 4 goals on a good Rangers’ defense, a welcoming sign. They weren’t going to be held for this long. They were eventually going to regress back to their average after such a long streak of not scoring the puck. They have had a good history against the Islanders on offense. In their last four games they scored 5, 4, 3, and 5 goals. All understandably went OVER the total. The Islanders do have a great offensive unit, but are susceptible on defense, where they are allowing an average of 2.78 goals for 23rd in the NHL.
With John Tavares and company on the Islanders roster, they have been finding it easy to score. The Isles come into Thursday night scoring 3.02 goals per game, 4th in the NHL. The offense has been good in their last ten games, scoring 2.90 a game, but the defense has had some holes, letting in 3.20 per game. The Leafs and Islanders have gone OVER the total nine straight times, a 9-0 run in a series that typically sees a lot of goals. I cashed in on their first two meetings this season on the same bet and I’ll look to do it again. Let’s ride the streak and look for another OVER 5.5 to cash between the Leafs and Islanders.
Pick – OVER 5.5 GOALS (-105) 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)