Covid has reared its ugly head already this NHL season, wreaking havoc when it comes to the schedule. The show must go on, however, and there’s a busy week of action ahead.
Here’s a look around the league at five teams to keep an eye on this week.
New York Islanders
The Isles are coming off a galvanizing 4-3 win over the Penguins on Saturday. They rallied from a 3-2 third period deficit to win that game, snapping a five-game losing streak. A big week lies ahead, starting with Monday’s showdown with the rival Rangers at Madison Square Garden before hosting the Penguins and Bruins on Thursday and Saturday respectively. I see some value with the Isles right now, having won with them on Saturday and likely to see them in an underdog role in two of three games this week.
St. Louis Blues
In an odd but perhaps not unexpected Covid-tinged scheduling quirk, the Blues have played the Coyotes in each of their last three games and will face them three more times in the next week. They’ll look to even up a four-game set at home on Monday night after dropping back-to-back games against the ‘Yotes last Thursday and Saturday. Note that St. Louis is scheduled to play a sandwich game in Minnesota on Thursday but that’s Covid-pending with the Wild dealing with a number of absences.
The Oilers have a tricky stretch up next with a clear letdown spot to kick it off in Ottawa on Monday night after dropping a 6-4 decision in a rivalry game against the Flames on Saturday night. They’ll play again in Ottawa on Tuesday before heading to Montreal for their fourth game in six nights on Thursday. Edmonton will be a big favorite against the Senators after steamrolling them by a combined 12-7 score in consecutive wins on home ice last week. The Sens showed some signs of life in back-to-back games against the high-flying Habs and might offer a bit of value on home ice to start the week.
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit will have had been in Florida for a full week by the time it wraps up its four-game jaunt against the Lightning and Panthers on Tuesday. The Red Wings upset the Panthers 4-1 on Sunday afternoon but figure to be in tough on Tuesday night. A two-game swing through Florida is usually bad enough for road teams, rarely managing to sweep the trip over the years, but here with the lowly Wings having been in the Florida sun for a week and coming off a win on Sunday, I look for an obvious letdown on Tuesday night. Note that the Panthers remain an undervalued commodity, quietly putting together a 6-1-2 start to the campaign.
Now might be a good time to buy low with the Flames as they looked good in Saturday’s 6-4 win over the Oilers but that marked just their third win in their last eight games. Let’s chalk that win up as a potential turning point as they prepare to host the Jets on Tuesday night before four straight against the struggling Canucks. Keep in mind, the Flames opened the season with three games against the Jets and Canucks, collecting five of a possible six points along the way. Despite its uneven overall record, I do think Calgary has plenty of upside moving forward.