Islanders may not be playing for much but they will attempt to knot the season
series with the Bruins at two games as the regular season draws to a close.
Boston Bruins (44-24-11) and the New York Islanders (30-37-12) may be going in
opposite directions, with Boston gearing up for the NHL’s second season and New
York searching for exotic vacation destinations, they both have little to gain
in tonight’s matchup. Boston is
essentially entrenched in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with
nothing to gain in their last three games while the Islanders’ playoff hopes
have been eliminated for quite some time.
Tonight will feature a Boston team looking to dispatch an inferior
Islanders club but hopefully able to stay healthy in the process.
have been playing to the level of their competition recently. They defeated last year’s Stanley Cup
finalists, Chicago and Philadelphia, in consecutive games, just a little over a
week ago. Yet they followed those huge
wins with a loss to the out of the playoff money Toronto Maple Leafs, at home
no less. Boston has been a team that has
had the good fortune of some outstanding goaltending by Tim Thomas and his
capable understudy, Tuukka Rask, but they have sputtered against the weaker
sisters of the league. In their last
game, the Bruins built a 3-0 lead over the New York Rangers but fell apart as
the game went on dropping a 5-3 decision and incurring the wrath of head coach
Claude Julien. Squandering leads to New
York teams has not been unusual for the Bruins this season. Look no further than March 11th
when the B’s had a 2-0 advantage over the Islanders at the Coliseum, only to
implode and ultimately fall 4-2. While
it’s of paramount importance that the Bruins stay healthy, they must be able to
harness a killer instinct as they enter the postseason.
New York Islanders
saw their playoff aspirations dashed early in the season when they lost 18 of
20 games between October 23rd and December 13th. It was a miserable stretch and one from which
they never fully recovered. Recently
they’ve been up to their old tricks, losing 4 of five, with their latest effort
a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes in front of their home crowd. On the bright side, 1st round
draft pick John Tavares may just be a superstar in the making. The 20 year old center from Ontario has been
a beacon of light in a dismally gray season.
Tavares leads the team with 64 points and will be a household name if
Isles management can surround him with better talent on the wings.
goaltender Rick DiPietro (he of the 15 year contract) has not been the rock
between the pipes the Islanders counted on headed into the season. The problem with signing players to
ridiculously long contracts is that they have a tendency to get injured. Specifically knee injuries, like the one
which has derailed Di Pietro’s career and has allowed recently acquired backup
Al Montoya to showcase his talents.
However, one goaltender no matter how good, will not singlehandedly turn
this team into a solid contender. New
York is a -30 in plus/minus differential and they are several players away from
competing with the upper echelon clubs like the Boston Bruins.
have to be kicking themselves after their lethargic second half performance
against the New York Rangers. There are still
roster moves which must be made headed into the playoffs with rookie Tyler
Seguin, Michael Ryder and a few others hoping to be part of the lineup and not
part of the audience. Although the
Bruins are only 20-18 (factoring in ties that were lost in overtime or
shootouts) and -10.2 units at home for their backers, I tend to think talent
and determination will overcome any complacency they may have concerning the
Islanders who are 13-26 ATS on the road this season. Although it’s tough to lay north of 2 to 1 on
anything, it’s even tougher to bet the big underdog only to tear up the
ticket. Bet the Bruins tonight in Boston.