The lone game on the NHL schedule features the Tampa Bay Lightning traveling to Brooklyn for a date with the Islanders. This is the only game on the schedule, with a lot of action going on elsewhere on the sports landscape. College basketball just started up, the NBA is in full swing, and then there is of course Monday Night Football tonight. For Lightning and Islander fans, they have some hockey to watch as well. Also the diehard hockey fans and people with money on the game will be tuned-in to the ice on Monday night. It’s been an exciting first month of the season, with plenty of twists and turns. The Lightning will attempt to get back in the win column after a loss to the San Jose Sharks. Meanwhile the Islanders have lost two straight games to the Lightning and Panthers. So, this is a rematch from November 10th. They’ve gone 1-5 in their last six games.
In fact, the only teams the Islanders have beaten in their last ten games include the Wild, Leafs, and Canucks. They enter with a record of 5-7-3 and are still looking to find a recent quality win. A win against the Lightning would give them that win, but they are going to have to do it as underdogs at home. There isn’t much faith in the Islanders right now, which is unfortunate for them because they were looking up, a team who could be a major force in the NHL this season. They got over a big hump a few years ago, and I think they were expecting bigger things by now. The way they’ve started this season, the Isles don’t appear ready to compete with the upper echelon of teams in the league. Kyle Okposo departed for Buffalo, who was a staple in the Islanders’ lineup. Perhaps his impact was being underestimated because the Isles don’t look like the same team. There is still lots of time to get going. We’ll see if they do it tonight against the Lightning.
The Islanders have been all over the place. They really are the model of inconsistency in the NHL right now. The Islanders recently had five straight games at home, but failed to generate much positive vibes. Their only win came against the Vancouver Canucks, a Canucks team who are the bottom of the barrel in the league right now. There is just no energy or good body language going on in Vancouver, but they were able to take advantage of the Isles. Then again, the Lightning have been a topsy-turvy team this season as well. One game they’ll put up 5, 6, or even 7 goals and then fade off and score 1 goal in several consecutive games. The Lightning have scored 1 goal in five of their last ten games.
I think for the Lightning, they’re getting a little bored with the regular season. This is a team who have played exceptionally well in the regular season and then choke it all up in the postseason, at least recently anyway. The Ducks started extremely slow last season before they turned it on in the second-half. We’ll see if the Lightning follow their lead this season. Tampa are 6-13 in their last nineteen games playing in New York. They are also just 3-4 on the road. The Islanders have gone 1-4 in their last five, but three of those went to overtime. I think the Lightning come in a bit lazy and underestimate the Isles, after they just beat them a few days ago. The Lightning should be favorites here, but I don’t see them as -140 or -135 favorites in this game. I’m going to give the Islanders the benefit of the doubt tonight, as I take them at plus-money.
PICK: ISLANDERS TO WIN +120