Four plays in Monday's NHL action. Here's our best bets:
COLORADO AVALANCHE AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS:
The Avalanche have been a huge disappointment so far this season. Every time they show a sign of heading in the right direction there's an inevitable turnaround. Denver might not be the most intense media market for a NHL team but the local press is starting to lose patience, some suggesting that the team is living on their past glory. That may or may not be the case, but they sure aren't doing it in the present. The latest 'sign of life' for Avs fans is a very impressive 5-3 win at Winnipeg on Saturday night. There is some hope among the Denver hockey faithful but they can't be blamed for not being ready to 'buy in' after previous disappointments.
Avs' forward Matt Duchene missed the morning skate at Brooklyn's Barclays Center due to an illness. Word is that he'll play but if he doesn't then John Mitchell—who has missed time with an oblique injury of late—will step into Duchene's spot on the Avs' top line. No disrespect to Mitchell, but Duchene's play with eleven goals in the month of November will be tough to replace. That's as good a place as any to start talking about Colorado's prospects going forward. They're a brutally talented team that might have the best top line in hockey with Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog. Semyon Varlamov is a talented though painfully erratic goalie. He'll get the start tonight though his hold on the top job isn't particularly strong at the moment with Reto Berra playing fairly well in relief. Thomas Greiss will be between the pipes for the Islanders.
The Islanders are a tough team to figure. They've got talent but lack intensity. The local fans and media are starting to get on them for this. At any rate, they don't deserve to be -160 favorites over the Avalanche. We'll back Colorado and look for this game to go 'Over' the total—9 of the last 10 head to head have exceeded the total with a total of 11 goals in two games last season.
BET COLORADO AVALANCHE +140 OVER NEW YORK ISLANDERS
BET COLORADO/NEW YORK OVER 5.5
CAROLINA HURRICANES AT NEW YORK RANGERS:
Rangers have lost three straight in regulation for the first time this season and there is a sense of panic in the Big Apple. Washington has passed them for the Metro Division lead and is in great form. Regardless, they should get off the losing streak here against a very beatable Carolina team. True, we thought the same thing against Philadelphia in their last game but that loss might have been a 'wake up call'. Rangers will have Henrik Lundqvist back in net and have owned the 'canes winning 9 of the last 10 head to head meetings including 6 straight at Madison Square Garden.
BET NEW YORK RANGERS -200 OVER CAROLINA HURRICANES