Well, we hit the Canadiens on Monday with a big OT win over the Maple Leafs at +141, so last night I liked them to keep the momentum in Ottawa with a chance to potentially take over third spot in the North Division. The opposite happened.
Instead, the Habs came out with a decent first-period effort followed by a terrible final 40 minutes. Jake Allen was bad in goal and the Habs’ offense just couldn’t muster much in terms of offense as they were dealt a 5-1 loss in rather embarrassing fashion.
You can’t predict that type of effort as the opposite was very much expected as they look to get hot entering the postseason, but it was one of worst games of the season for Montreal instead.
So, we’ll take our lump and move onto this Devils vs. Islanders pick from New York!
- Season Record: 30-28
- Units: +1.26
Devils vs. Islanders Betting Odds
- Devils (+197)
- Islanders (-220)
- Devils +1.5 (-130)
- Islanders -15 (+110)
- Over 5.5 (+108)
- Under 5.5 (-119)
Devils vs. Islanders NHL Pick Breakdown
The Devils have once again struggled to score goals this season, although that was expected both from a personnel standpoint, but also the fact they were placed into the difficult East Division with some quality defenses abound.
They were also expected to trade some assets at the deadline, and they did just that to these Islanders as Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac face their old club in this one tonight, leaving us with a little bit of a watered-down Devils lineup since that April 12 deadline.
Enter tonights’s contest, the Devils are tied for 23rd with 2.64 goals per game on the season and they haven’t received much help from a power play that sits tied for 28th alongside the San Jose Sharks at just 14.7% this season.
According to the underlying metrics, it would appear the Devils more or less have deserved their offensive fate this season. While they sit 12th in terms of scoring chances for/60, they also sit 23rd in both high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60 at 5v5, according to Natural Stat Trick. Their 2/25 goals/60 at 5v5 this season is just one tick off their 2.24 expected mark, so their 5v5 offensive fate as matched its expected mark.
That said, this offense is white-hot of late. They were shutout two games back by the Bruins, but have scored at least four goals in four of their last five games and at least five goals in two of those five games. Even with the shutout, they’re averaging 3.80 goals per game over their last five.
Now, let’s pump the brakes. They’ve also averaged only 21.4 shots per game in that time. They’ve been held to 21 shots twice and 19 shots twice and 27 shots over their last five. Therefore, their 19 goals on 107 shots over their last five is good for an outrageously high 17.8% shooting rate as a team. That’s not going to last much longer, at all.
Nonetheless, you can’t blame a team for doing as much as they can with what they have.
Now, for as weak as the offense has been on the whole, the defense has struggled mightily, again as expected.
The Devils will enter this one ranked 28th with 3.38 goals against per game on the season while their penalty kill has done them no favors whatsoever in the form of a 70.5% mark that has them ranked dead last in the league. That PK has been a hair better in going 7 for 9 (77.7%) over their last five games, but it’s been a big sore spot this season to say the least.
To be honest, the 5v5 defense has been solid. The Devils rank 12th in terms of scoring chances agaisnt/60, 14th in high-danger chances for/60 and 20th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.67 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 2.29 expected mark, so they’ve certainly allowed far more goals at 5v5 than they’ve deserved, and much of that has to do with goaltending.
The defense has been fine of late, allowing seven goals over their last three games, but they’ve also allowed at least three goals in nine of their last 10 with an average of 3.90 goals against per game during that time.
They’ll certainly look to batten down the hatches in this one tonight.
As noted, the Devils have not received the best of goaltending this season. Their 5v5 save percentage of .913 ranks 24th in the league and when you factor in the complete lack of penalty killing and you get the end result of 28th in overall defense despite your defense allowing scoring chances at a top-half rate.
We aren’t sure who will get the nod tonight for the Devils, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it’s going to be Mackenzie Blackwood who has re-discovered his game here in May after a tough month of April.
Blackwood came out of the gate hot in the month of January, but scuffled over the next three months. He worked to an ugly 3.56 GAA and .875 Sv% for the month of April across 11 starts, but has been brilliant in May.
Across two May starts, Blackwood has turned in a .941 Sv% while winning decisions over the Flyers and Bruins. He hasn’t been so fortunate against the Islanders this season, working to a disastrous 4.07 GAA and .871 Sv% across two starts, by far his fewest against any East Division opponent, however.
If he starts, we’ll see if he can make it three brilliant outings in a row.
The Islanders have had some trouble scoring goals in recent seasons, and while they’ve scored a little more this season than they have recently, they’re still well into the bottom-half of the league.
The Isles’ 2.72 goals per game on the season puts them 19th in the league while their 18.1% clip on the power play puts them 24th in the league as well. That said, according the underlying metrics they are generating plenty of scoring chances.
At 5v5, the Islanders rank ninth in terms of scoring chances for/60, sixth in high-danger chances for/60 and seventh in expected goals for/60. Their 2.47 goals/60 at 5v5 is actually above their 2.27 expected mark, so while they’re generating plenty of chances, they have actually scored more than deserved if you believe the underlying data.
They haven’t exactly lit the world on fire of late, either. They managed just five goals in a two-game set with the Sabres entering this one while they have averaged only 2.20 goals per game over their last 10.
They have another fine opportunity to get back on track in this matchup with another bottom-five defense tonight.
Of course, the club’s calling card every since Barry Trotz took over behind the bench has been defense as they’ve been a top-three defense in the veteran coach’s tenure to this point.
In fact, they enter this one ranked second with 2.25 goals against per game on the season and sixth with an 83.6% mark on the penalty kill. That penalty kill has been outstanding of late in killing off 16 of their last 17 penalties, good for an eye-popping 94.1% clip.
As has been the case in recent years, the metrics don’t quite add up the surface number. The Islanders rank 19th in scoring chances against/60, fourth in high-danger chances agaisnt/60 and 10th in terms of expected goals against/60. Their 1.99 goals against/60 is only a few ticks below their 2.06 expected mark, however, so when you factor in the excellent PK you indeed get one of the league’s better defenses.
After allowing just one goal across a three-game span including back-to-back shutouts of the rival Rangers, the Islanders surrendered seven regulation goals across a two-game span against an anemic offenses in the Buffalo Sabres entering this one.
I would suggest they’re due for a bounce back in this one.
We aren’t sure who is getting the starting nod in goal for the Isles tonight as Semyon Varlamov took the first loss in Buffalo followed by rookie Ilya Sorokin 24 hours later.
I would suggest Varlamov goes again in this one, and he’ll bring Vezina-style credentials into this one despite a loss his last time out.
He’ll enter this one sporting a 2.02 GAA and .930 Sv% on the season across 34 appearances including a whopping seven shutouts. Varlamov actually went three straight starts with shutouts in all of them before allowing those three goals on Monday. That said, he still turned aside 36 of the 39 shots he faced and posted a .923 Sv% nonetheless.
If Sorokin gets the nod, he’ll carry a 2.22 GAA and .917 Sv% into action, going 12-6-2 in the process. After dominating the KHL for the past few seasons, the 25-year-old’s transition to the NHL has been rather seamless, and playing in front of this defensive structure certainly helps.
Either way Trotz decides to go here, he can’t go wrong.
Devils vs. Islanders NHL Pick
I actually don’t mind the value here on the Devils as they are scoring goals right now and the Islanders have given up some goals of late as well.
That said, most signs point towards a l0w-scoring affair in this one.
For one, the Devils generally struggle on the offense and they’re up against a top-two defense. Their sky-high shooting rate over the last five games is going to come crashing down to earth in a hurry and the Islanders are the perfect team to deliver that regression.
The Isles also aren’t scoring much right now, and Mackenzie Blackwood has been fantastic over his last two starts. If both he and Varlamov go, there are two hot goaltenders going toe to toe against favorable offensive opponents.
So, sign me up for the Under 5.5 tonight from New York.