The New York Islanders have won four of their last five games.
The Edmonton Oilers have lost three of their last five games.
The Islanders beat the Oilers 3-0 in their first meeting this season.
Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
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New York Islanders
22-15-2 (5th in Metropolitan Division)
20-17-2 (4th in Metropolitan Division)
Mathew Barzal (40)
Connor McDavid (73)
Brock Nelson (15)
Connor McDavid (33)
Mathew Barzal (30)
Connor McDavid (40)
Adam Pelech (12)
Darnell Nurse (14)
Brock Nelson (2.97)
Shots (Per Game)
Connor McDavid (3.87)
The New York Islanders will travel north to face the Edmonton Oilers for the second time this season. The Islanders shut out the Oilers 3-0 in their first meeting. Ilya Sorokin had a career game and finished with 49 saves.
The Islanders are having a solid season and in the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. However, they are barely holding on to that position. If they lose this game and the Pittsburgh Penguins win, they will fall out of the Playoff picture. On the other side, the Oilers are in the same position as the Islanders. They have a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche, so a win today would be huge for them.
The Islanders have a pretty well-rounded squad. Offensively, they are solid and score over 3.2 goals per game. Defensively, they are not the best, but they are decent. New York allows less than 2.7 goals and 32 shots per game. In addition, they have a solid goaltender in Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin has a high ceiling and often carries the Islanders to victory.
The Islanders do not have superstars like the Oilers, but they have some talented players in Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson. Both players are centers and have at least 23 points and 38 assists. Barzal and Nelson are not topping any lists but are still dangerous with the puck.
Ilya Sorokin has been excellent in net this year. The 27-year-old has three shutouts, and his .926 save percentage is the third-highest in the NHL.
The Oilers have a top-five offense and score over 3.5 goals per game. However, defensively, they struggle and allow well over three goals per game. If Edmonton wants to make a run, they must improve their defense dramatically.
The Oilers have the best center duo in the NHL in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid leads the league with 33 goals, and Draisaitl’s 37 assists are the fourth-highest in the NHL. These two cannot be stopped and are primarily responsible for the Oilers’ offense this season.
Stuart Skinner has taken over Edmonton’s top goaltending spot. The 24-year-old is mediocre at best but the best option Edmonton possesses. This is not an ideal situation for Edmonton, so they may need to trade for a better netminder later on in the season.
The Islanders may be on the road, but I am giving them the edge. They have a better all-around roster and significantly better goaltending. Bet on New York.
The Islanders are the underdogs but can win if they slow down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and overwhelm the Oilers with shots.
The Islanders are facing the best center duo in hockey in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Both players can score and pass at a very high level and must be slowed down. Most of the Oilers’ offense goes through them, so it is imperative for the Islanders to make life hard for them.
The Oilers do not have great goaltenders. Stuart Skinner has been good at times but is not consistent, and Jack Campbell is a shell of himself and playing at a very low level. Since neither goaltender is dominant, the Islanders need to shoot as much as possible.
The Oilers are the favorites and will win if they draw penalties and score the first goal.
The Oilers have the NHL’s best power-play unit and convert over 32% of their opportunities. Almost ⅓ of Edmonton’s goals have come on the power play, so the Oilers must get this unit on the ice and give them as many opportunities as possible. If Edmonton draws just three penalties, they will likely score one goal.
The Oilers’ offense is electric and must come out hot. Edmonton has to shoot immediately and find the back of the net before the Islanders. If the Oilers score first, they significantly increase their chances of winning.
Mathew Barzal is the heart of this offense. The center can score (and has ten goals), but he is much more of a passer. Barzal leads the Oilers with 30 assists and had two assists in his previous game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Barzal must be an agent of chaos on the ice today. He should look to shoot but, more importantly, try to set up his teammates. He is a gifted passer and needs to take advantage of this.
Darnell Nurse is arguably the Oilers’ best defenseman. The 27-year-old leads Edmonton in +/- at 14 and TOI at 23:55. He is also a decent passer and has 14 assists.
Nurse will likely be tasked with handling the likes of Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee. He will have to bring his A-game and slow them down to limit the Islanders’ offense.
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What - New York Islanders vs Edmonton Oilers
Where - Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta
When - Thursday, January 5, 7:00 PM EST
How to Watch - NHLPP, ESPN+
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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