The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres are scheduled to meet at the KeyBank Center on Monday night. The Sabres head home after going winless in NYC and Boston. They showed little enthusiasm, and seem to be fine with their 6-4 upset over the Bruins on April 23. After that win, the Sabres have been taking plenty of shifts off without too much energy. When you mix no effort and a lack of talent, bad things tend to happen on the ice.
The Sabres go into Monday night with a record of 13-32-7 and 33 points. If they don’t receive the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, then it’s just as bad as when the Detroit Red Wings missed out last year. The Red Wings finished last year with a record of 17-49-5 and 39 points. Despite tanking, the Red Wings did not win the lottery.
Based on how bad the Sabres have been this season, it would be a shame if the worst team in the league, by a wide margin, doesn’t get the first pick. This system is supposed to prevent teams from tanking, but the Red Wings from last year, and this Sabres team, haven’t needed to lose games purposely. The Sabres have an excuse for their poor play, kind of. With their leader Jack Eichel injured, along with both goaltenders, and Kyle Okposo, the Sabres aren’t dealing with a full deck.
Do the Sabres want even more problems? Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had to leave the crease against the Bruins after suffering an injury on Saturday. The Sabres are going to have to dig even deeper into their minor league system to put two goaltenders on the roster tonight. They better have their emergency goaltender on hand this week because a dark cloud is over the Buffalo crease.
I suspect that the Sabres are going to come out with a little more fire on Monday night. However, if the Islanders care to use their weight and bring their usual defensive intensity, then the Sabres are likely going to find another tricky chore tonight. The Islanders got some of their mojo back against the Rangers after losing three straight games. They were perfect defensively with a 4-0 and 3-0 win. Head below for our free Islanders vs. Sabres pick on May 3, 2021.
New York Islanders vs. Buffalo Sabres NHL Betting Odds:
Islanders vs. Sabres Prediction:
The Sabres can win this game or keep things competitive if they catch the Islanders on their heels. If the Islanders go into Buffalo with no focus or energy, a good effort from the Sabres will likely be good enough. However, if the Islanders show up and play their gritty and physical style like we expect from this roster, then the Sabres will fold up again. The Islanders are second in the NHL with an average of 2.2 goals against per game.
Their penalty kill has been effective, with a 83.9% kill rate. The only offensive category that the Sabres rank in the middle of the league is on the power play. They’re 15th with a power play percentage of 20.6%. The Islanders have been bullying teams around over their last ten outings. They’ve allowed just 1.7 goals per game through their previous ten showings. Heading on the road has done absolutely nothing to change their defensive philosophy. The Islanders have conceded only 1.96 goals against per game on the road this season.
Semyon Varlamov has been on a Vezina like season with a 1.99 GAA and 0.93 save percentage. Playing on a team with a defence like the Islanders helps a lot, though. Just ask Thomas Greiss, who is with the Detroit Red Wings after having a lot of success with the Islanders. Greiss is finding life a lot more difficult on a team with a bad defence. The offence has not matched the defensive efficiency for the Isles. The Islanders are 18th in the NHL with 2.7 goals per game. With their defence, that’s still good to get the Islanders to 31-15-5 going into Monday night.
The good news for the Islanders is that the Sabres have struggled defensively. This should be an opportunity for the Islanders to breakout offensively. Dustin Tokarski will get the call between the pipes, as he hopes to improve on a 3.54 GAA and 0.904 save percentage. Buffalo is 30th with 3.5 goals against and 31st with 33.6 shots against per game. In their last ten outings, the Sabres have allowed 3.8 goals per game. The Islanders have beaten the Sabres nine straight times, including 5-2 in their last three meetings. They can’t take this game lightly, but if the Isles are interested in playing, a 4-2 or 4-1 win is likely.