The Florida Panthers have 57 points while the New York Islanders have 51. At first glance, it would appear that the Panthers are the better team but you have to scratch deeper than the surface to handicap this contest.

The Isles have been the better team – and they’ve actually been a winning team – since late December and they are a reliable team to take as the NHL betting pick in this contest.

Florida PanthersThe Florida Panthers Can Win Because…: 

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun has absolutely owned the New York Islanders throughout his career. Vokoun, who got his first night off in seven games on Saturday, has a career record of 14-4-1 against the Islanders. He’s allowed just 35 goals in those 19 starts while posting a GAA of 1.86 in that span while notching four shutouts. 

Considering who the Isles will have in net on Monday – either Al Montoya, the sixth goaltender the Isles have used this season or 27-year-old rookie Nathan Lawson – the Panthers should have a significant edge. 

Even counting the 3-0 shutout win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, the Islanders have allowed 32 goals in their last nine contests. If the Panthers can garner a stellar effort from Vokoun and meet the averages that the Isles are allowing, they’ll be in good shape for a win. 

The New York Islanders Can Win Because…: 

They have been playing playoff-caliber hockey since the middle of December.

Sound crazy? Just do the math. 

The Isles were 5-18-5 on December 13th but since then, they are 17-12-2. If you flesh that stretch of hockey out over a full season, that projects to roughly 95 points and that would be good enough to get the Isles into playoff contention for a low seed in the East. 

The general perception is that this team is a lowly cellar-dweller – especially since they are using a fifth-string goaltender. But the truth is that they have been playing far better than they have been getting credit for. 

They have won five of their last six contests and have been lighting the lamp at an impressive pace. They haven’t scored less than three goals in any of their last eight games and they have averaged 4.75 goals per game in that stretch. That’s impressive. 

Before you write them off, do the math as this is a young team that continues to improve. The odds makers haven’t picked up on it quite yet and this could be a very good team to ride down the stretch of the season.

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction: 

The Florida Panthers earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday but it was just their fourth win in their last 15 games. The Isles are at the opposite end of the spectrum as they have won five of six and heating up right now. On top of that, the Panthers may be a bit worn down with this being their fourth contest in six nights. 

Bet the Islanders at Pinnacle Sports to keep their momentum going.

Pick: Islanders