Two teams in very different spots in the standings prepare to do battle, as the Bruins invade the Barclay Center to take on the Islanders. While the Bruins sit comfortably atop the standings and are more likely cruising to the top spot, the Isles are fighting for their playoff lives.
The Islanders currently sit in the 8th and final playoff spot, but they have the Penguins, Panthers, and Sabres all nipping at their heels, with the Pens and Sabres having games in hand. The Bruins are comfortable ahead of the Maple Leafs in the conference, and the Winnipeg Jets for the President’s Trophy. What does that mean for Wednesday night? Let’s break it down.
The Bruins have won 6 of their last 7, including a hard fought win over the Leafs on Saturday, and a 6-0 shellacking of the Flyers on Monday. They are flying high, and playing as well as they have all season.
The Islanders have not fared so well of late. Before beating Montreal on Saturday, they had lost 4 in a row and 5 of their last 6. They are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Washington, blowing a 3 goal lead to lose in OT on Monday night. The two teams met a month ago, with the Bruins winning in a shootout. Prior to that, Boston had won the previous game, but had lost 5 straight to the Islanders.
The Islanders have a good goaltending tandem in Ilya Sorkin and Semyon Varlamov. As a duo, they allow fewer than 2.7 goals a game. Sorkin has been the better of the two so far, despite his 15-14 record. He’s only given up 2.25 per game, with a .925 save percentage. Varlamov has the superior record, but he’s giving up 2.76 per game. Sorkin should start this game, though, since Boston is the top team with a lot of firepower.
Boston counters with their own strong tandem. Linus Ullmark is their unquestioned number 1, with a stellar 23 and 2 record, and a .936 save percentage. He should get the start, since Jerem Swayman started on Monday night. However, Swayman got a shutout, so we’ll see if the Bruins reward him with another start.
The Bruins are the only team in the NHL to have given up fewer that 100 goals so far this season. The closest is Winnipeg, and they are about 20 goals behind. They have a very stingy bunch, led by top defenseman Charlie Mcavoy. He can move the puck out of the zone and is a strong offensive player. The Bruins defense stands out as it is truly a team effort. Everyone can move the puck and play strong in the defensive end.
The Islanders are a top-10 defensive team, but not nearly as good as the Bruins. One through 6 they are strong, with a good collection of puck movers and defensive specialists. Coach Lane Lambert preaches a defense first approach, and this team has bought in. They could use some help by getting more offense out of the group, though.
Would you be surprised to hear that the Bruins are the top scoring team in the league as well? This high octane offense gets scoring out of the top 3 lines, with the fourth line chipping in occasionally. Winger David Pastrnak has been the most dangers, as he sits in the top 5 in scoring, with 62 points. Patrice Bergergon continues to show that he can still do it at 37 years of age, and Brad Marchand continues to menace opposing teams with his tenacity, scoring touch, and playmaking ability.
The Isles are not a strong offensive team. They find themselves in the bottom half of the league as they are a defense-first team. Matthew Barzal is a great playmaker, with 41 points on the season. The problem is, to be an effective playmaker, you need someone to pass to. Zach Parise and Josh Bailey are also on the top line, but have 19 and 17 respectively. Brock Nelson anchors the 2nd line, and has had a good connection with Anders Lee.
There is no line yet for this game, but expect the Bruins to be a -250 or so favorite. They roll 3 lines on offense, and their defense is good enough to slow down the Islanders. While the Islanders currently have something to play for, they are falling flat at the worst possible time. The Bruins, on the other hand, have not let their foot off gas yet in their chase for the president’s trophy. If you want to place a bet that Barzal and the boy will be able to upset the Bruins, you’re in luck. NY sports betting is now legal, so if you want to bet on the Islanders within state lines, you can.