New York Islanders @ Washington Capitals – Verizon Center at 00:00

My first Handicap Betting NHL preview didn’t go as I envisaged as we saw nine goals go in with the Senators out on top. I’ll hope to get back on track between these two divisional rivals.

Both teams lost their opening games of the season and will be looking to get their first wins of the season in what many presume will be a closely-contested Metropolitan Division.

Season of Change for New York?

The Islanders had an influx of personnel changes during the off-season. Notable subtractions from the team include Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. Although three of the players were not exactly superstars, they all played a major role in New York having their best season in recent history.

It’s worth noting that Nielsen and Okposo were highly productive on their powerplay lines last season. They were second and third in points on the teams 5 on 4 powerplay lines (Okposo 6 G 13 A) (Nielsen 7 G 11 A). On a personal note I’m surprised that they achieved more points on the powerplay unit than captain John Tavares. The two players were slightly underrated and as it happens so often, it will be noticeable now they’re not there.

Nielsen will especially be missed as he usually plays on all occasions (5 on 5, penalty kill and powerplay). The Dane also has one of the best records in the shootout and will get the Detroit Red Wings some valuable points in the process. New York have replaced the trio with veterans Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera. Rookie Mathew Barzal is expected to contribute in some capacity for the Isles.

The Isles were somewhat dependent on John Tavares last year. Although he had setbacks with injuries he still had 70 points. We saw Tavares’ true worth to his side in the off-season as he played a pivotal role in their shock win over the heavily-favoured Florida Panthers in the first round. He’ll have more leadership around him with Ladd and Chimera. Anyhow you could argue that neither of the duo have the two-way acumen or offense as Nielsen or Okposo respectively.

Now or Never for Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals came up short once again, having dominated during the regular season. It seems to be the same old story for Washington. It must have been gut-wrenching for captain Alex Ovechkin watching his rival Sidney Crosby lifting the Stanley Cup once again, having beaten the Caps in the second round of the playoffs. They lost their opening fixture against the Penguins without Crosby (concussion).

The Capitals have made minor adjustments to their team for this season. Lars Eller and Brett Connolly have been recruited in what head coach Barry Trotz will be hoping are the missing pieces to his jigsaw.

Ovechkin, as previously stated hasn’t reached the holy grail of hockey and won the Stanley Cup. Or even reached the final. For all of the personal accolades that the Russian has won, he has yearned for Lord Stanley’s mug for sometime now. He doesn’t need reminding that his window is getting shorter as he turned 31 last month.

The Caps were less reliant on Ovechkin and to a lesser extent his linemate Nicklas Backstrom last season. The additions of TJ Oshie and Justin Williams gave the Capitals secondary scoring. Evgeny Kuznetsov, was the real breakout story of the season with 77 points in 82 games. This was his second full season in the NHL and he’ll look to cement his name as of the premier centres in the game.

Asian Handicap Recommendation: Under 4.5 goals at 2.55

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @The_Drewse

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