Islanders vs. Oilers preview
As the return of John Tavares to Long Island lingers in the minds of Islanders fans everywhere, the Islanders(35-18-6) need to keep the pace as they head to the second game of a back-to-back on their western Canadian road trip. After losing to the Calgary Flames(37-16-7) 4-2 on Wednesday, the Isles head to Edmonton(24-29-6) to face a depleted Oilers roster who may be without their best player in Connor McDavid due to illness. The Islanders, 6-3-1 in their last 10, have continued to shock the league as they maintain first place in the Metropolitan division by 5 points, ahead of the Capitals (33-20-7) and the Penguins(32-21-7).
The Islanders have to capitalize on the lowly Oilers, who have allowed the 6th most goals in the league with 197. This may seem inviting for a team who is in first place, but the Islanders are 22nd in the NHL in Goals scored this season at 168, averaging 2.78 Goals Per Game. Despite the lack of scoring, the encouraging news for Isles fans is that they are undefeated on their second game of back to back contests this season at 9-0-0, averaging 3.89 GPG in the back ends. “I don’t know, were just in good shape, I guess,” says Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier.
The Islanders hope to get back two important pieces on Thursday night as Thomas Hickey and Andrew Ladd have recovered from injuries sustained earlier in the year. The path for Ladd, who hasn’t played since November 13th, may be easier than Hickey’s as Michael Dal Colle has been reassigned to Bridgeport, potentially opening up a spot for the 33 year old winger. “Personally, it’s been almost three and a half months and i’m just itching to get back and i’m excited to be a part of it,” adds Ladd, a veteran who hopes to bring his Stanley Cup Playoff experience into a lineup that definitely seems poised for a run. Hickey’s most possible option seems to be replacing Adam Pelech, who only has 12 points in 55 games played this season. It seems unlikely that Devon Toews would be sent down as he has proven that his skills translate to the NHL level, posting 1o points in 25 games played with a +9 on the ice.
– Ryan Pulock has scored 8 points in his last 10 games, leading all Islanders D-men in that category, as well as leading all Islanders’ blue liners in points.
– Casey Cizikas has averaged a point per game in his last 6 contests as he hits 26 points on the season, well on his way to beat his single season record of 29 set back in 2015-2016. Cizikas had scored 44 career goals in his previous 7 seasons combined, while this year he has a chance to get to 20, as he sits at 16 goals with 23 games left to play.
– Anthony Beauvillier has tallied only 1 point in his last 11 games. Beauvillier has to step it up as this is the 2nd stretch of 10 games this season where he has scored 1 point or fewer, including the first 16 games of the season where he only tallied 1 goal total.
– Although Jordan Eberle recorded an assist in Alberta this past Wednesday, he’s only tallied 3 points in the last 13 games, while sitting at a -2 +/- in that same span. Playing on the last year of his contract, Eberle needs to improve his play to prove to the Islanders that he is worth keeping around.
THE BETTING LINE
NY ISLANDERS (-1.5) +215 @ EDMONTON OILERS -255
O/U 5 ½ U
In a match up between Robin Lehner and Mikko Koskinen, I can see the Islanders veteran netminder holding down the fort and the Islanders pouncing on the newly extended Koskinen, who posts a .906 save percentage and a 2.87 Goals Against Average. I predict the Islanders win this game 4-2, covering the spread and going over the O/U with an empty netter at the end.
Posted by Tom Monti