Washington Capitals (9-8-3) at New York Islanders (15-6-0)
|Date & Time||Wednesday November 26, 2014, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: New York Islanders -140 / Washington Capitals +127 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
Heading into this season one the biggest questions surrounding the New York Islanders was what type of production they were going to get from their goaltender. In recent years the Islanders have been a capable offensive hockey club that has developed lots of young talent up front, but their defense and especially their goaltending has been far below average. Islanders general manager Garth Snow knew this and was active, bringing in Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson to solidify the position. Halak has had some good years in the league but after bursting onto the scene in Montreal he was always playing in front of a very good defensive hockey team in St. Louis. This was going to be a different challenge for everyone involved but so far Halak and the Islanders have been up to the task. Halak is 10-4-0 with a 2.33 goals against average and .922 save percentage, leading the Islanders to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings. Monday night with the Philadelphia Flyers in town it wasn’t Halak who stole the show but he did enough to help New York get the victory. The Islanders peppered Flyers goaltender Steve Mason with 46 shots but on this night they couldn’t find a way to get the puck past him. Halak stopped 17 and then both shooters he faced in the shootout to lift the Islanders to a 1-0 win. John Tavares scored a nifty goal in the skills competition and the captain leads the Islanders with 20 points on the season. This lineup is loaded with young kids but the additions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy on defense have really helped solidify things for this group. In recent years the Islanders have had these stretches of 10-15 games where they just can’t find a way to win, but it’s hard to see that happening to this club. The playoffs are a very really possibility in their last year on the island.
Things have been trending in the opposite direction for the Washington Capitals who just haven’t been the same hockey club in recent years after being one of the more dominant regular season teams every season. At 9-8-3 the Capitals are fourth in the Metropolitan Division standings and right now it’s hard to see how this team is going to make the post season. Barry Trotz took over a club that has a star in Alexander Ovechkin, but he’s a player that sometimes causes more headaches than anything else. The defense and the goaltending aren’t up to par right now and they’re a club that is still trying to figure out what their identity is on the ice. This home and home that the Capitals have coming up with the Islanders is an important one even though it’s early in the season. Saturday night the Capitals fell victim on home ice to a goaltender that just wouldn’t be denied. Washington out shot the Buffalo Sabres 44-26 in this hockey game but Jhonas Enroth was a wall for most of the night. The Capitals scored early in the third period on their only power play of the night, a Matt Niskanen goal, but the Sabres did a good job of staying out of the box outside of that. The Capitals have had a problem in recent years of being a team too reliant on the power play to score goals and on this night it ultimately cost them. Braden Holtby stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced but with the game tied 1-1 and under five minutes remaining he surrendered the game winner. Holtby’s performance to start the season has been up and down like much of the team, and moving forward they’ll both be looking for more consistency.
Right now the Islanders are on a roll. They’re playing some great hockey in all three zones and if they come with that type of effort again in this one they should be able to take down the Capitals on Wednesday night.