Welcome back to the frozen tundra! In three months from now at the end of June, one team will be hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup as the best hockey team on the face of the planet. As the regular season enters its final month of play, it’s no doubt that this is where the fun begins and the games taking place from here on out have that much more meaning. On the last day of March, the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders face off in a matchup that may not seem significant on the surface, but don’t tell that to these two respective squads. Let’s jump into our NHL odds series, where our Blue Jackets-Islanders pick and prediction will be unveiled.

FanDuel March Madness

The Blue Jackets have looked the part of a team that is desperately trying to get back in the win column, as Columbus has lost four straight and are on the brink of seeing their playoff dreams come to an end with a limited amount of games remaining in the season.

Similarly, the Islanders are in the same boat in a lot of ways. Entering play on Thursday with a nearly identical point total standing as Columbus, New York dug themselves so deep a hole early in the year that it was near impossible to accumulate the proper amount time to be able to climb out of it. The Islanders sit at 29-27-9 through 65 games, so if there is a silver lining, it is that New York still has two extra games on the schedule compared to the Blue Jackets, a slight edge for them to make a miraculous run at a postseason berth.

Here are the Blue Jackets-Islanders NHL Odds, courtesy of FanDuel

NHL Odds: Blue Jackets-Islanders Odds

Columbus Blue Jackets: +1.5 (-154) ML (+160)

New York Islanders: -1.5 (+128) ML (-196) 

Over: 6.5 (+100)

Under: 6.5 (-122)

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Why the Blue Jackets Could Cover the Spread/Win

Columbus is 15 points behind the final wild-card spot with just 15 games left on the schedule. The slumping Blue Jackets need to get hot in a hurry if they want even a sniff at postseason play. The good news? Columbus is 40-27 ATS. The bad news? That statistic didn’t seem to cause any issues for the Islanders, as New York white-knuckled a 4-3 regulation victory only 48 hours ago over the Blue Jackets. Outside of an otherworldly performance from New York goaltender Semyon Varlamov and his 42 saves, Columbus dominated the Islanders for most of the evening, outshooting them 45-29 and even edging them out on face off wins 30-23.

In order for the Blue Jackets to cover the spread on Thursday night, they will need a better effort from their goalie Elvis Merzlikins, whose .862 save percentage versus New York will fall short if they want to be triumphant. Don’t be surprised if the Blue Jackets do in fact try to change things up by putting Joonas Korpisalo in net, especially in a rematch two days later and Korpisalo coming off a week’s worth of rest. Right-winger Patrik Laine has been a bright spot for Columbus with 51 points while leading the team with 25 goals.

Why the Islanders Could Cover the Spread/Win

The NHL community is well aware of the struggles that took place in New York the first couple of months, but the Islanders have been quite reputable since obtaining one of the worst records in the league. The Islanders are 6-3-1 in their previous ten outings and are averaging 3.4 goals per game during those contests. Additionally, like most squads in the NHL, New York plays better hockey on their home ice, and that’s certainly been the case in 2021-2022. The Islanders are 17-13-1 in games at UBS Arena, compared to a pedestrian record of 12-14-2 out on the road. New York has to feel encouraged about sneaking a win on Tuesday versus the Blue Jackets, as they were certainly outplayed but still found a way to dig deep and claw out a gritty win.

Now at home, expect New York to come out inspired and aggressive, something that they have done well about in the last few months. The Islanders will most likely ride the hot hand in Varlamov once again, and hoping to ignite a spark offensively will be Center Brock Nelson. Nelson has established himself as an integral part of the first-line attack, as his 48 points leads the team. Columbus struggles in giving up scores with 3.70 goals allowed per contest, while the Islanders excel defensively, suffocating offenses to a minuscule 2.69 goals per game. If New York covers, it will be because of their effort on defense and another exceptional showing from Semyon Varlamov.

Final Blue Jackets-Islanders Prediction & Pick

The value of the Islanders at -1.5 in the spread is tempting, and expect New York to come out firing at all cylinders. Remember, the Islanders did not play great in their first game versus Columbus, and they should come out with more intensity and energy in front of their home fans. New York is also playing better hockey despite being slightly behind Columbus in the Metropolitan Division. Put your money on the Islanders and trust that they will dispose of the Blue Jackets with ease at home.

Final Blue Jackets-Islanders Prediction & Pick: Islanders -1.5 (+128)