In a jam-packed night of action, the New York Islanders (33-16-6) travel to the Music City to face off against the Nashville Predators (26-22-7). The last time these teams met, the Predators poured on the offense with an 8-3 drubbing back in December.
Here is a preview for tonight’s game between the Islanders and Predators, along with odds and a free pick.
By the Numbers
After a rough stretch by the Islanders to close out the first half, the team has gone 4-1-1 post-All-Star break, including back-to-back five-goal performances and wins. New York is averaging 2.96 goals per game, 18th in the NHL, on a fairly-low 29.4 shots per game. Their shooting percentage of 10.1 ranks 13th, while their power play is also in the middle of the pack, ranking 18th at 19.2 percent.
Defense is once again a strong point for New York, as their 2.71 goals allowed rank sixth. In addition. They give up an average of 31.5 shots per game, 17th in the league. Finally, New York also ranks 17th on the penalty kill, staving off the man-advantage 79.7 percent of the time.
The Predators, who are .500 over their last 10 games, are hoping to bounce back from consecutive losses, the latest of which a 6-2 loss to Vancouver on Monday. So far this season, Nashville is tied for 10th in goals scored with 3.2 on average, shooting a solid 9.6 percent. They’re fifth in shots on goal with 33.5 per game, but come in with a struggling power play percentage of 16.8, just 24th in the NHL.
Defensively, the once-excellent Predators are now just 26th with 3.27 goals allowed. They are a top-10 team in shots allowed as well with 30.4. But the biggest reason Nashville is struggling to get back into contention is their league-worst penalty kill, one that is successful just 73.7 percent of the time.
Who to Watch
Over the last few days, veteran Josh Bailey has really stepped up for the Islanders. The winger is currently on a three-game point streak in which he has a goal and five assists, three of those helpers coming against one of the league’s best teams in Washington. Overall, Bailey has 25 assists to go along with 12 goals, and will look to keep his hot streak going tonight.
Additionally, Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier will be must-watch players tonight. Barzal, the team’s leader in points, is coming off of a three-assist night in Philadelphia, giving him 30 helpers on the season to go along with 18 goals. Meanwhile, Beauvillier just finished an eight-point, six-game streak, giving the 22-year old a career-high 36 points in 55 games.
The Predators’ top offensive option happens to play defense, and is coming in with some solid momentum. Defenseman Roman Josi is among the best point-scoring d-men in the league, and is proving it again this year with 14 goals and 41 assists. He currently has a three-game point streak with four assists, giving him seven assists in eight games following the All-Star break. Josi is an elite blue-liner, and a must-Watch option tonight.
Along with Josi, Nashville has some forwards who are certainly worth watching. Mikael Granlund has been heating up, scoring three goals in the last four games and six scores in his last 10. He only has 13 goals on the year, but this stretch could certainly carry into tonight. There’s also Craig Smith, who’s back-to-back goals coming into the game give me 13 on the season as well.
The Islanders are expected to roll with Thomas Greiss in net tonight. Greiss is 16-7-2 with a 2.55 GAA and .920 save percentage.
The Predators will likely counter with Pekka Rinne. The long-time netminder is 17-13-3 with a 3.11 GAA and .895 save percentage.
Odds and Pick
Despite the Islanders being the better team and carrying the momentum, it’s the Predators who are favored tonight at -140. Oddly enough, Nashville has a winning road record but is just 11-11-4 at home, while New York is is a solid 15-9-2 as the visitors.
Tonight, I like Nashville to grab the win. I think their ability to put pucks on the net will help tonight, while defensively they can hang with a team who is decidedly average when they possess the puck. If they can stay out of the penalty box as well and not have many times where they’re short-handed, I’ll take the Predators -140 tonight.