New York Islanders vs. Chicago Blackhawks - 1/2/14
Chicago Blackhawks (28-7-7) at New York Islanders (13-21-7)
NHL Hockey: Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Nassau Coliseum)
The Line: New York Islanders +157 / Chicago Blackhawks -173 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
With three wins in their last four games the New York Islanders are finally starting to forget about their lengthy losing streak. In spite of the recent victories there's still work to be done for this club that has found themselves behind early and often. In their only loss during the stretch they trailed the New Jersey Devils in the first period and after finally tying it in the third ended up giving up the game winning goal right after. The Islanders clawed their way to victories against the Minnesota Wild and Boston Bruins but in both of those games they trailed by multiple goals before rallying to win. If the Islanders are going to keep accumulating points they'll need to start playing with a lead and not get behind the eight ball so much. Between John Tavares, Frans Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo the Islanders are getting consistent offense but it's still not going to be good enough if they can't keep the puck out of thier net. Evgeni Nabokov has given them some stability since returning from his injury and although he's not going to light the world on fire with his statistics he seems to give this team a confidence when they play in front of him. Nabokov will have his hands full with a potent Chicago Blackhawks club on Thursday night. Monday night the Blackhawks got 26 saves from Antti Raanta in a 1-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Kings. The victory improved Raanta to 10-1-3 on the year and he looks extremely comfortable in the crease in his first year in the league. Brandon Saad scored his 14th goal of the year and he's quickly developing into a monster for Chicago. As if the Blackhawks didn't have enough weapons now they've got a young power forward that came light the lamp. This team has cruised through the early part of the season and there's no reason to think they won't be the favorites to win the Stanley Cup yet again this year. Thusday night on Long Island they should have a field day against this Islanders defense group. If the Islanders have any chance of winning this one they're going to need to possess the puck and do a great job of moving it out of their zone cleanly. If the Islanders can't do that it might be a long night for them and Navokov.
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