NHL Hockey Betting: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals

NHL Hockey Betting:  New York Islanders at Washington Capitals

The New York Islanders are close to clinching a playoff spot. They currently hold down the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and can still run down the Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Unfortunately for the Isles they head into the District of Columbia to take on the best team in the NHL coming off an ugly loss. The Islanders are treading water at the moment (5-5-0 last 10 games) while the Capitals are–surprise, surprise–grinding out wins the way they have all season with a 6-3-1 mark in their last ten games. Washington, of course, has clinched everything that a team can clinch in the regular season–it actually seems like they did that around the All Star Break. They’ve clinched the President’s Trophy with an 11 point lead over the top teams in the West (Dallas and St. Louis). They’ve clinched the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division with a 16 point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There’s never really a *good* situation in which to catch the Capitals but the Islanders have the misfortune of catching them off a 3-0 loss at Arizona on April 2. They’ve actually been good off a road trip this year with a 7-3 record and have gone 7-4 with two days rest. But the important thing here–they’ve been deadly after an ugly loss. After a loss by two or more goals they’re 9-1 +7.6 units. After scoring 1 goal or less? Ditto–9-1 +7.6 units. They’ve mopped up against divisional opponents as well (20-8 +8.4 units). The Caps have won all three games against the Islanders this season (though the last two were identical 3-2 wins) and they’ve dominated them in the pasty three seasons. Washington has won 7 of the last 9 head to head in Washington and 12 of 18 overall.

And were THAT not enough this is a very important game for Washington goaltender Braden Holtby as he tries to lock up a Vezina Trophy. Holtby is 47-9-5 this year and a win tonight would tie the single season victory record set by Martin Brodeur in 2006-2007. Washington didn’t draw an easy schedule in the last week of the season–after this they’ll host Pittsburgh on Thursday, play at St. Louis on Saturday and host Anaheim in their regular season finale in Sunday. Holtby has his best shot to tie the record tonight.