Well, the Buffalo Sabres are on a losing streak again. It's four games in a row, and they are, we guess, playing out the string.
But they have shown a decent amount of resistance when they are on their home ice, and on Monday they tackle a team that has been something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde act this season, and more Hyde than Jekyll lately.
Nonetheless, the New York Islanders have recently clinched a playoff spot, and when it comes to the defensive end of the ice, they are one of the NHL's best.
How much difference will that make on Monday? Well, enough that we will do something we don't normally do, in pursuit of profit.
Here is the setup:
New York Islanders vs. Buffalo Sabres Predictions
Islanders vs. Sabres Betting Stats
When: 7:08 PM ET (Monday)
NHL Betting Odds
Money Line: Islanders -284 / Sabres +244
Total: Over 5.5 Goals +105 / Under 5.5 Goals -125
Puck Line: Islanders -1.5 (+105) / Sabres +1.5 (-125)
Since they went on their 18-game losing streak, the Sabres have come back to look a little less like a clown act. But they have been more than respectable when they have Linus Ullmark in goal.
Ullmark is not expected to be in action, which means Dustin Tokarski gets the call again.
Tokarski had to do some "relief catching" on Saturday, when Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had to leave the game with a lower body injury. He was able to stop only eleven of 14 shots in the third period, which means he allowed three goals.
In the last seven periods he's played, he has allowed 13 goals, and has a 3.54 goals-against at the moment.
The Sabres haven't been bad at home lately; they have, in fact, won four of their last ten at the KeyBank Center. Those wins have come against the Flyers, Rangers, Penguins and Bruins.
For what it's worth, Tokarski has a better home GAA (3.20) and save percentage (.919) than he does on the road (3.86 and .886, respectively).
Buffalo has also lost each of the last three meetings by 5-2 margins. The Sabres have surrendered 29 goals in their last six games. We'd say that pretty much takes us out of the possibility of backing the "under," even though the Islanders have not proven to be the most high-powered road warrior.
They scored only 49 goals away from home. That's a little less than two per game. And they have scored seven goals sin their last six road games.
Does this establish a basis for us to back the guys from Long Island?
At the same time, even when they were winning those 5-2 games, they weren't facing Tokarski. Rather, they were up against Jonas Johannson and Carter Hutton. When you think about it, none of Buffalo's goalies have been effective, outside of Ullmark.
You have to worry a little about these Islanders because a lot of their metrics indicate they aren't as good as they look. But they are in a race of sorts in the East, and that should bring an effort out of them.
Buffalo has played five of their last six games over the total, and things can get out of hand easily. We're not going to move forward with the "over" here, because the Sabres' scoring is a little spotty and the Isles, after all, can play some defense.
But because goaltenders like Tokarski might supply exceptions to rules, we wonder if New York's road impotence will be exploited that much. Margins haven't been unusual in Buffalo's games of late, as each of their last six losses have been by more than one goal.
So in a rare maneuver, we're on the puck line (What Is a Puck Line Bet?).
The Play: N.Y. ISLANDERS -1.5 Goals (+105)