I handed down a pair of free NHL picks last night and they ended up in a 1-1 split with a very small loss on the margin.
The winner came between the Flyers and Blue Jackets where I had Philly on the three-way moneyline at +100 odds to win that one in regulation, and it was an easy one.
The Flyers dominated this one, scoring the first three goals of the game as well as the final two in a smooth-sailing 5-1 victory on home ice.
At about the same time, I had the Sabres as -115 road favorites in Ottawa, but this one didn’t go as planned.
The start certainly did as the Sabres tucked the first two goals of the game, however an Ottawa onslaught followed as the Sens scored four times in less than four minutes to take a 4-2 lead into the first intermission.
The Sabres, on two occasions, cut into two-goal Ottawa leads, but were never able to tie it from there on out while the Sens ran away with a 7-4 win on Chris Phillips night.
All told, the 1-1 night cost us 0.15 units, so no harm no foul as we move onto this six-game Wednesday night schedule!
Season Record: 98-83-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Islanders vs. Avalanche from Colorado!
Islanders vs. Avalanche Betting Odds
- Islanders (+141)
- Avalanche (-156)
- Islanders +1.5 (-180)
- Avalanche -1.5 (+160)
- Over 5.5 (-113)
- Under 5.5 (+102)
Islanders vs. Avalanche NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Islanders uneven second-half of the season has cost them a spot in the Metropolitan Division’s top three as they now reside in the top Wild Card spot in the east, although they do have games in hand on their competition.
Nonetheless, the Isles have dropped three in a row entering this one tonight and have scored a total of one goal in doing so. All three losses have come on the current four-game road trip, so they’ll certainly be looking to salvage a win here tonight in Colorado.
Offense on the road hasn’t just been an issue of late, but rather most of the season.
They now rank 28th with just 2.31 goals per game on the road this season where their power play sits at a decent 14th with an 18.8% clip on the campaign.
Clearly, their offensive woes are mostly at 5v5 action as their 1.84 goals/60 at 5v5 on the road ranks them 30th in the NHL, better than only the league-worst Red Wings.
Of course, they’ve managed to salvage a 15-12-2 record on the road this season thanks to their defensive play and goaltending away from home.
Their defense sits fourth with 2.62 goals against per game on the road this season while their road penalty kill sits in a share of 13th with an even 80% mark.
While their power play has struggled in going 0 for their last 10, their penalty kill has responded by going 7 for 7 over their last four and 12 for 13 (92.3%) over their last seven.
Despite losing three in a row, the Isles have allowed two goals or fewer in two of those games, scoring just once themselves in that time. A 5-0 loss to Vegas where they were outshot 43-19 on Saturday is the lone exception here.
In terms of their possession metrics, this team leaves a lot to be desired.
At 5v5 on the road, the Islanders rank 29th with a 45.87% Corsi For%, 23rd with a 45.79% Scoring Chances For% and 25th with a 44.06% High-Danger Chances For%.
The good news is they rank sixth with a .929 Sv% at 5v5 on the road, and it will likely be up to Semyon Varlamov to keep that going in this one, although nothing is confirmed as of yet.
I suspect Varlamov will get the nod as he’s started each of the last two games and posted a .960 Sv% in the process, but yet losing both.
Furthering his case to start is the fact Thomas Greiss was torched for three goals on just eight shots before being pulled from that one. Also, Varlamov owns a .944 Sv% over his last four starts.
He would bring a 2.53 GAA and .918 Sv% into this one tonight to go along with a stout 2.13 GAA and .930 Sv% on the road.
Finally, this is, of course, a meeting with his former club and I’d be shocked if he didn’t get the start.
The Avs dropped an entertaining matchup with the Lightning in overtime their last time out, however that was also their third straight loss as well.
The Avs previously dropped the Stadium Series game by a 3-1 count to the conference-worst L.A. Kings after surrendering a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.
All three losses came on home ice where the Avs have been less than stellar this season, at least at one end of the ice.
Their home offense certainly hasn’t been an issue, until late where they’ve scored just two goals per game at home, including the outdoor game.
That said, they still rank second with 3.69 goals per game on home ice this season where their power play sits 13th with a nice 22.1% clip.
That offense has taken some hits personnel-wise of late as the injury bug has ravaged their top six.
Nazem Kadri is out week-to-week with an ankle injury while Mikko Rantanen was injured in their 4-3 OT loss to Tampa Bay on Monday and will miss 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone.
Forward Matt Calvert is also on the shelf with a lower-body injury.
While the offense could take a hit, it’s the defensive end that’s hurt them the most.
The Avs enter this one tied for 22nd with 3.07 goals against per game at home and ranked 22nd with a 79.3% mark on the penalty kill at home as well.
That penalty kill has been hit or miss lately, going 3 for 3 over their last two games but also just 14 for 19 (73.7%) over their last six games.
If you’re looking at the possession metrics here, however, the Avs hold a substantial advantage.
At 5v5 at home, the Avalanche rank 10th with a 52.65% Corsi For%, eighth with a 54.25% Scoring Chances For% and 17th with a still-strong 53.06% High-Danger Chances For% clip.
Also on the shelf at the moment is No.1 netminder Philipp Grubauer who was hot until getting run into in the outdoor game against the Kings, leaving the starting duties to Pavel Francouz for the foreseeable future.
Francouz has been a pleasant surprise in his rookie NHL season, turning in a 2.51 GAA and .922 Sv% in 23 appearances, but the splits do not favor the home side.
At home, Francouz has gone 6-3-3 with a 2.99 GAA and .901 Sv% across 13 appearances (11 starts).
He’s struggled a bit in limited February work with a 3.00 GAA and .900 Sv% in two starts and three appearances for the month and allowed four goals in the OT loss to the high-octane Lightning his last time out.
A cross-conference matchup between two clubs who both carry three-game losing streaks into action could be a tough one to predict.
That said, I’m actually not having too much trouble siding with the road team here.
The offensive woes are concerning with the Islanders to be sure. One goal total in three straight losses is not ideal.
That said, their defense has been mostly strong of late, and are a real good candidate to quiet this high-powered, yet beaten up Avalanche offense.
The work of netminder Semyon Varlamov has been encouraging as well, and you can bet his new teammates want to win this one for him after he played the previous eight seasons in an Avalanche uniform before they let him walk in free agency and chose to role with Grubauer moving forward.
The Islanders are catching the Avs at a time when they are banged up and not clicking at their potential on offense.
Add in the suspect defense and penalty kill they’ve displayed at home this season and I think we can squeeze some value out of the Islanders at +141 on the moneyline tonight.