It’s the unstoppable force versus the immovable object tonight, and by that, I mean, it’s both the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders‘ skaters against each others’ MVP-quality goaltenders. Two teams that have struggled to put goals on the board will try to break out of ruts on the marquee game in Canadian National Hockey League play tonight.
Winnipeg Jets vs. New York Islanders odds
|Jets Moneyline Odds
|Islanders Moneyline Odds
|5.5 goals (over +100, under -120)
|Wednesday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m. ET
|Broadcast: Sportsnet (National)
Stream: Sportsnet Now
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)
To find these two teams’ last matchup you have to go all the way to 11 months ago, as Wednesday night is their first game against each other this season. In that previous game, the Islanders walked away with a 5-2 victory, with the bus driven largely by players still on the team. Brock Nelson opened up the scoring in the first period, only to be met by Kyle Connor before the frame could close out. The Islanders popped two more in the second, and while Blake Wheeler looked inspired to pull his team back with a goal in the first minute of the third, Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck put the game out of reach in the final minutes. Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 of 29 shots for the win.
About the Jets (35-21-1-0, 33-24 ATS, 14-39 o/u)
The Jets are no longer the cream of the crop in the Central Division. Now, most of that is rooted in the fact that the Dallas Stars have gone on a roll, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Jets either in recent weeks. Over the past month, the team has posted a 5-5-0 record, dropping games to the likes of Philadelphia and Columbus. A win on Monday against the Rangers snapped an 0-2 start to this Eastern U.S. road trip; Wednesday gives them a chance to end it on even footing.
Player to watch: Kyle Connor
While analysts will argue back and forth about whether or not the 26-year-old is the one driving success for the team, the Michigan native continues to produce. Connor has eight points in his last six games, including three against the Rangers on Monday.
About the Islanders (29-24-3-4, 29-31 ATS, 26-31 o/u)
While the Islanders are currently sitting atop the Wild Card mix, their playoff hopes are in much dire straights than it appears. For starters, this spot is largely rooted in having played more games than anyone else – three teams behind them in the race have higher points percentages. Maybe more importantly, however, is the fact that star forward Mathew Barzal is out week to week with a lower-body injury. Barzal, who ranks second on the team with 51 points in 58 games, is the mobile engine of the Islanders offence, which breaks up its heavy, methodical game beneath him. Losing him shifts the entire outlook of the group, and not for the better.
Player to watch: Bo Horvat
Well, if there was a time for the team’s big mid-season trade acquisition to make a name for himself, it would be now. Horvat, who was acquired from the Canucks on Jan. 30 in a trade that sent Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty, and a first-round pick the other way, has four goals and six points in eight games since joining the team. Respectable for sure, and in line with his career pace, but a far cry from the pace he set in Vancouver. We’ll see how what he can do as the Islanders’ go-to centre.
Jets: Connor Hellebuyck (26-16-1, 2.39 GAA, 0.926 SV%)- Likely.
Islanders: Ilya Sorokin (19-17-5, 2.43 GAA, 0.924 SV%)- Likely.
The Jets will be missing Cole Perfetti on a day-to-day basis with an upper-body injury, as the team announced yesterday. Sam Gagner will take his place. The Islanders, as mentioned, are missing Barzal for the long haul with a lower-body injury, but are also without Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Clutterbuck, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Josh Bailey. That’s a lot of forwards out of the lineup.
Betting trends to watch
- The Jets have covered the puckline in five of their last six wins, while their opponents have covered it in 10 consecutive Winnipeg losses.
- Winnipeg games have played over the total just once in the last 16 games.
- The Islanders, despite their missing offence, have found a way to clear the total in four of their last six. Part of that is allowing their fair share.
Wagers to consider
- Both of these teams are struggling to score right now, and as such, bet365 has the total set at just 5.5. Despite that, I think it still might not be the worst idea to take the under at -120, with two Vezina Trophy candidates in between the pipes. Something about this game screams 2-1 final.
- I’d like Bo Horvat to clear 2.5 shots on goal, as he’ll be looking to lead his new team back onto the right track. You’ll find that prop at bet365 at -160.
- Lastly, if you’re buying what I’m selling with the goalie point above, Sorokin and Hellebuyck are sitting at +1000 for a shutout tonight. Far from a sure thing, but if there’s a night where you can feel good about someone doing it, it’s probably this one.
Other NHL Games Tonight
There are two additional games on the NHL schedule tonight. Here’s who we’ve got on tap: