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Hopefully everyone has recovered and fully digested what was a great Super Bowl on Sunday night. That was one heck of a football game and a great way to cap off the NFL season. Perhaps with football season over and done with, some more attention can get turned to the NHL season as the stretch run is just around the corner. I did not get a pick out yesterday due to a lack of action on the schedule. I don’t like to force picks when there is a shortage of games just for the sake of getting a pick out. That’s not to say I won’t ever send out a pick on a night with a light schedule, however it compromises the integrity of my picks in general if I simply send out a pick that I’m not fully confident in. That being said, there is a whole bunch of action across the continent tonight as 11 games fill up tonight’s NHL schedule.
Florida Panthers @ New York Islanders
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+100)
The Florida Panthers will play the back end of back-to-back road games this evening, this time on Long Island against the first-place New York Islanders. New York will be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak as they lost to Detroit and Boston on the weekend, and their scoring has been down since they lost first-line winger Kyle Okposo to an injury. They will however catch a break this evening as they will avoid facing Florida’s starting goaltender tonight as Roberto Luongo is likely to yield to backup Al Montoya for tonight’s contest. Even without Okposo the Islanders will begin to find the back of the net. They score 3.1 goals per game and they haven’t exactly been stalwarts defensively all season long. They give up 2.82 goals per game this season and their penalty kill is the worst in the NHL. They now kill off just 73% of their penalties and they have given up a powerplay goal in nine of their last 17 shorthanded situations. Also trending in the wrong direction for goal prevention in New York is the play of Jaroslav Halak. While Halak began the year red hot and still is a big reason why the Islanders are leading the Metropolitan Division, his play in January was certainly a step back for the veteran netminder. He has a 2.83 goals against average and a .898 save percentage in the month of January. As for Montoya, his number this year are rather unimpressive as a save percentage of just .891 presents an opportunity for this Islanders team to get back on track offensively. Take the Panthers and Islanders to put some goals up this evening and send the total Over the 5.5 mark at a nice price.