New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens Betting Pick
Montreal finds itself on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The host Canadians enter Friday’s contest against the Isles having lost three-straight games. They currently sit in last place within the Atlantic Division with a record of 20-43-11.
Meanwhile, barring a miracle, the Islanders will also miss out on the playoffs this season. Despite posting a positive 6-4-0 mark over their last ten games, the Isles are coming off a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday night, which all but ended their slim playoff hopes.
New York sits in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division but trails the Washington Capitals by 15 points and the Boston Bruins by 18 points for one of the two Eastern Conference wildcard berths.
While neither team has much to play for, the game should be exciting nonetheless.
Islanders’ Defense and Goaltending Has Bailed Offense Out
The Islanders struggled through the majority of the season, digging an early hole in the standings.
While they picked up their play over the last few months, going 19-14-3 since February, it was too little, too late.
New York’s goal-scoring struggles have been a significant Achilles heel for the team and one thing to point towards when explaining their down year. They average 2.75 GF/G, 23rd in the NHL.
Of the Islanders’ 198 GF on the season, Brock Nelson (33) and Anders Lee (25) have accounted for 58 of them. Nelson and Lee are the only Islanders to surpass 20 goals this season.
New York’s defense and goaltending have bailed them out more than a few times this year and could be why they hung around the playoff picture for a while. The Islanders allow 2.69 GA/G; only the New York Rangers (2.51 GA/G), Calgary Flames (2.47 GA/G), and Carolina Hurricanes (2.36 GA/G) give up fewer goals on the average per game.
New York has eight shutouts on the year, second to only the Flames (11) for most in the NHL. Goaltenders Illya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov have been the Islanders’ goaltending tandem for most of the year. The 33-year-old Varlamov, mainly in the backup role, has gone 9-15-2 with a .915 SV% and a 2.82 GAA in 26 starts.
Meanwhile, Sorokin has had the better of the play between the two. In 45 starts, Sorokin is 24-14-7 with a .927 SV% and a 2.30 GAA.
Canadians Hope to Find Consistency As Season Winds to a Close
It’s been a tough season for the Habs, who have treaded water in the league’s basement throughout the year.
Their 51 points over 74 games are worst in the Eastern Conference and second to worst in the NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have fewer points this season (49).
When it comes to their struggles, one could point to injuries. They’ve been without goaltender Carey Price and defenseman Shea Weber all season and are also without the likes of Jonathan Drouin and Jeff Petry.
One could also point to the youth on the squad; 14 players on Montreal’s roster are 25 or younger. Montreal’s top-two point-getters are 22-year-old Nick Suzuki (56 points) and 21-year-old Cole Caufield (38 points).
Whatever the reasons, the Canadians have flailed on both ends of the ice. Their 2.57 GF/G is 28th in the NHL, while their 3.81 GA/G is second to only the Detroit Red Wings (3.82 GA/G) for worst in the league.
Montreal has been no better on special teams, allowing the most powerplay goals in the NHL, 63. Their 13.60 PP% is second-worst in the NHL; only the Philadelphia Flyers convert on the man advantage less with a 12.68 PP%. The Canadians’ 74.70 PK% is fifth-worst in the NHL.
This year, the Canadians don’t have a 20-goal scorer; Nick Suzuki leads the team in goals (19), followed by Caufield (18) and Josh Anderson (18).
Without Price between the pipes this season, the Canadians have been forced to start four different goalies; Jake Allen (35 starts), Sam Montembeault (27 starts), Cayden Primeau (9 starts), and Andrew Hammond (3 starts).
While Allen has made the most starts this season, he’s out for the rest of the year nursing a groin injury. On the year, Allen went 9-20-4 with a .905 SV% and a 3.30 GAA.
It will likely be Montembeault’s net to mind the rest of the way; he’s gone 7-16-6 with a .895 SV% and a 3.64 GAA this season.
Islanders Should Come Away With a Road Win
The Islanders enter as the road betting favorite at -165, while the over/under for goals is at 5.5 goals.
While the Islanders have struggled on the road this season, they still have the clear advantage on Friday night.
The Islanders are 15-16-5 on the road this season, but they’ve played better away from home lately. Over their last eight road contests, New York is 5-3-0.
Meanwhile, the Canadians have been dreadful on home ice this season. The Habs enter Friday night’s home game with a 10-21-4 record at the Bell Centre. The only other NHL with a worse road record is the Coyotes at 10-25-1.
Neither team would be categorized as a high-scoring team, but 5 1/2 goals are reachable in this one. The Canadians have allowed more goals than any other team this season.
The Islanders at -165 with the over is the pick in this one.
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