Islanders vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick – January 4th

I dropped my last free NHL pick that featured the Blue Jackets and Bruins from Boston.

I like the Bruins to beat up on a Blue Jackets team that is absolutely ravaged by injuries at the moment, including to their No.1 netminder Joonas Korpisalo who was red-hot at the time of his injury.

However, that simply wasn’t the case.

The Bruins took a 1-0 lead into the third period, giving our Bruins puckline pick hope, but it wasn’t meant to be as the Jackets tied the game early in the third before sending it to overtime where they would cap the upset with a 2-1 OT win.

I mean, I don’t hate the pick as the Bruins should certainly have won that game and winning it by more than one goal over the injury-ravaged Blue Jackets on home ice should have been in the cards.

Nonetheless, we’ll put the pick behind us and move onto tonight’s busy Saturday night NHL schedule!

Season Record: 64-55-1

Units: +9.76

Let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Islanders vs. Maple Leafs from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto!

Islanders vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds

  • Islanders (+135)
  • Maple Leafs (-155)
  • Islanders +1.5 (-180)
  • Maple Leafs -1.5 (+160)
  • Over 6 (-115)
  • Under 6 (-105)

Islanders vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick Breakdown

Now let’s take a look at each of these teams before I get into my final pick!

Islanders

The Islanders had a 17-game point streak at one point this season, but they haven’t been playing their best hockey of late.

The Isles will enter this one having lost four of their last six games and are coming off a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on home ice as -215 favorites.

That said, while their overall play has struggled of late, they have maintained their play on the road where they have gone 12-6-1 on the season.

They have won back-to-back road games entering this one and four of their last five on the road as well.

The Isles enter this one ranked 21st with just 2.58 goals per game on the road this season where their power play sits 15th with a solid 18% clip.

However, it’s been their road defense that’s been the key to success and has been much better than their home defense, especially of late

The Isles have slipped to 11th with 2.70 goals against per game at home this season, but will enter this one ranked second with 2.47 goals against per game on the road this season.

For good measure, the Islanders rank eighth with an 82.1% mark on the penalty kill away from home as well.

While the surface numbers mostly look good on the road, the possession numbers are terrible for a second straight season, yet the team continues to be among the best in the Eastern Conference.

At 5v5 on the road this season, the Islanders rank 30th with a 45.55% Corsi For percentage (CF%), 28th with a 44.57% scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) and also 28th with a 41.94% high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%).

The Islanders have benefited from a third-ranked .940 Sv% at 5v5 on the road as well as a fourth-ranked .855 Sv% on high-danger scoring chances.

Looking to keep those numbers strong tonight will be Semyon Varlamov who has taken over the starting role for the Islanders after he and Thomas Greiss alternated starts for the first couple months of the season.

Varlamov enters this one hot, posting a .938 Sv% over his last three starts, earning two wins in that time and taking a tough-luck 2-1 loss to the Devils his last time out.

For the season, Varlamov has posted a 2.41 GAA and .921 Sv% to go along with a 14-43 record. On the road, he’s posted a dynamite 1.83 GAA and .938 Sv% with a sparkling 8-1-1 mark away from home.

That said, he allowed four goals on 27 shots (.852 Sv%) in his lone meeting against the Maple Leafs earlier this season.

Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs are among the hottest, if not the hottest team in the NHL right now with 14 wins over their 19 games under new head coach Sheldon Keefe.

They have won eight of their last 10 while their red-hot offense will be a good test for this stout Islanders road defense.

Overall, the Maple Leafs rank second with 3.60 goals per game on the season while their 3.47 goals per game on home ice checks in at seventh.

Their overall power play sits fifth at 24.3% on the season while their home power play – which was awful under Babcock this season – now ranks 18th with a 20.3% mark on the season.

Since Keefe took over on November 21st, the Maple Leafs rank first with 4.16 goals per game, 13th with 2.84 goals against per game, first with a 36.6% power play and 16th with a 79.5% mark on the penalty kill.

Most important, they’ve been the best team in the NHL in that time with a .763 points percentage, only one of two teams over the .700 mark in that department.

They have scored at least four goals in nine straight games and at least five goals in four of their last five with six or more in two of those five.

Their defense has been much improved under Keefe to be sure, however there’s a couple concerns tonight.

One, their top defensive defenseman in Jake Muzzin remains out of the lineup with a broke foot.

Secondly, and most concerning, is the fact that backup Michael Hutchinson will get the start for this one tonight, the first time all season where he won’t start as part of a back-to-back set. It’s a clear attempt to give the heavily-used Frederik Andersen some well-deserved rest.

However, Andersen was in a groove approaching this one while Hutchinson had underperformed big-time this season.

Entering this one tonight, Hutchinson owns a brutal 4.03 GAA and .883 Sv% on the season and is just 2-5-1 as a result.

At home, he’s posted a much better 2.62 GAA and .922 Sv% in two starts and three appearances, but a big chunk of that was a one-goal outing against the league-worst road offense Red Wings in his last home start.

He followed that up by allowing four goals in New Jersey in his most recent start. The outing against the Red Wings was the only time he’s posted a save percentage above .897 in a start this season.

Final Pick

The Maple Leafs are red-hot at the moment, especially on offense, but the Islanders are precisely the team that could come in a shut down that hot offense.

On top of facing a very weak goaltender in Hutchinson, there’s the fact that Varlamov has been brilliant on the road this season, so the Islanders own the clear-cut goaltending advantage in this one.

I certainly understand Keefe’s interest in getting Andersen some rest now that the Maple Leafs have climbed back up the standings, but I just have a tough time seeing value in the Maple Leafs at -155 with a goaltender sporting a goals against average north of 4.00.

Again, the Islanders are the team that can come in and silence a hot offense with their defensive structure and quality goaltending.

To me, there’s value in a very good road team facing a very weak goaltender and I’ll take the road side in this one on the moneyline tonight.

The Bet
ISLANDERS
+135
Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.