NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Bruins vs. Islanders (Dec. 16)
Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Ilya Sorokin
Bruins vs. Islanders Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
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Both of these teams will have key members of their roster missing in action due to health and safety protocols.
It seems like the New York Islanders cannot catch a break. Just when this team thought they were done with all of its Covid complications, the Isles lost their best player, Mat Barzal, who is in protocol.
The Bruins won’t feel sorry for the Islanders, though, as Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and four other players will be out after testing positive.
Tonight will be a great chance for the New York Islanders to try and take advantage of a Boston team without their top two scorers.
Who Will Step Up For the Bruins?
The Boston Bruins have arguably had the best line in all of hockey for the last couple of seasons. Marchand, Bergeron and David Pastrnak — aka “the Perfection Line” — regularly dominate at 5-on-5 and on the power play, so skating without them is a big miss for a team that is so top heavy.
The Bruins will look to former MVP, Taylor Hall, to get going and try to gain some confidence with Bergeron and Marchand missing. Hall has five goals and nine assists in 25 games this season, which is disappointing relative to his expectations.
Hall isn’t the only one not producing down Boston’s lineup, as this team has under-performed relative to its underlying metrics all season. The Bruins lead the NHL with a 56.1% expected goal rate at 5-on-5, but have a 49.4% goal share on the year. You could say some offensive regression is to be expected, but this team is just not finishing and there’s not much scoring power behind The Perfection Line.
The Bruins have been dynamite on defense, though, and that’s helped them to a .600 points percentage. Boston allows the fewest high-danger scoring chances and expected goals in the NHL at 5-on-5.
Linus Ullmark will get the start for the Bruins and has been up and down this season but seems to be in decent form. His last start saw him stop 40 of 42 shots to lead the team to a 4-2 victory in Calgary. Ullmark has a 7-4-0 record and a .921 SV%, while stopping a +0.9 Goals Saved Above Expected.
Time Is Running Out on the Isles
The Islanders have dug themselves in a very big hole, but it’s still too early to count them completely out. They finally got their first win at their brand new arena on Saturday, but now they need to string a big run together. I still believe that this is a good team, they just need to get out of their funk.
The Islanders still only have three players with at least 10 points, but without Barzal in the lineup, only two of those skaters will be dressed on Thursday night. The next man up mentality has not worked for the Islanders this season as they currently rank 31st in the league averaging 2.13 goals scored per game. This team needs to find some offense and needs to shoot the puck more. They are averaging under 30 shots per game and are giving up 31 to their opponent.
Ilya Sorokin should get the start and he has been their best player all season. Sorokin has +5.8 Goals Saved Above Expected and a solid .926 SV%.
He will be the difference maker for the Islanders tonight.
Bruins vs. Islanders Pick
The Bruins don’t have much depth scoring outside of their top line, and with Craig Smith also out, the Islanders should be able to handle Boston’s attack in this contest.
Whether or not the Islanders can get on the board themselves is another thing entirely, but against a thin lineup I do think the Isles can get the separation needed in this contest and then count on Sorokin to make the result stand up.
This is a good spot for the Isles, who are basically in a must-win situation against one of the teams they are chasing.
Pick: Islanders -120