The N.Y. Islanders travel to Colorado for a meeting with the Avalanche on New Year’s Eve. The Islanders are hoping that in 2018 they can get over the hump, while I think the Avalanche are just happy to be a team above .500. It’s surprising to see the Avs ahead of the curve, because if you were predicting their record based on their offseason, you’d expect them to be at the back of the league again. The Avalanche finished way back with a record of 22-56-4, so when one of your best players, Matt Duchene, says he wants out, it’d seem reasonable to believe that things were going to get worse before they got better. Duchene was eventually traded, to Ottawa, and his former team have seemed to be doing just fine without him. There did seem to be a discord between Duchene and the rest of his teammates as time went on. It was certainly best for both parties to move on. The Duchene and Avalanche relationship became toxic, which needed to get extinguished.
It’s an exciting full day of hockey action, though. As the day begins in the afternoon with the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights. The NHL was not stupid when they scheduled the Leafs in Vegas on New Year’s Eve. The Islanders and Avalanche won’t garner as much attention, but it should nevertheless be a quality matchup in Denver. Colorado are coming off an exciting 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs in overtime. It will be their third in a row at home, while the Isles are playing their second in a row following a five-game home stand. Hopefully Santa brought them a new defence, because it was not the prettiest across 2017. We wrap up 2017 in Denver with the Islanders and Avalanche. Get the free NHL betting pick below.
N.Y. Islanders vs. Colorado Avalanche Pick
With a record of 18-16-2, it’s been a nice start for the Avalanche, better than anyone had on their radar. One guy who has been struggling is their goaltender, Semyon Varmalov. You would have expected for the Avs to be 18-16-2 at this point in the year, they’d need Varmalov to stand on his head in net. However, this season he’s hit a bit of a snag.
So, if Varmalov was actually standing on his head, we’d see their record look a lot nicer than what it is now. He’s posted a GAA of 2.94 with a 0.909 save percentage. He just gave up 3 goals each to the Leafs and Coyotes, and has allowed 12 goals in the last five games. The team is 26th in the NHL, allowing an average of 3.19 goals per game. The offence has been carrying them thus far with 3.14 goals scored per game, 7th in the league.
It’s been about the same for the Islanders, who have developed a habit of turning into statues in their own zone. They’re allowing 3.47 goals per game for 30th in the NHL. Luckily the offence has been performing for them, 2nd in the NHL with 3.5 goals per game. That isn’t going to be enough, though, to reach the playoffs. They are going to have to find defence from somewhere. I don’t see them achieving much of that tonight. There’s been no sign of it lately, with 3.7 goals allowed per game in their last ten. The Islanders and Avalanche looks like a 4-3 game on New Year’s Eve.
PICK: OVER 6 (-110)