For the second straight night, I split my free NHL picks 1-1, however after still earning a profit on my split on Wednesday I was dead-even in the profit/loss column last night, so let’s call it a wash.
I’ll start with my loss featuring the Bruins and Capitals from Washington where I had the Bruins as slight +113 moneyline underdogs.
Things got off to a nice start with a 1-0 Bruins lead and they even scored to make it 2-0 before the Capitals challenged for offensive and won the challenge. That actually turned out to be a big turning point in the game as the Capitals scored the next two goals to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. While the Bruins tied it, the Capitals got the go-ahead marker less than two minutes later and sunk our pick with a 3-2 win.
However, we got things evened up later on in pretty straight-forward fashion.
I had the hometown Colorado Avalanche to get back on the winning track against the Flyers in regulation, and they did just that. The Avs built a 3-0 lead throughout the game, and ended up with a 3-1 win on the night. I’ll tip my hat to Pavel Francouz for this one as he was excellent in turning aside 32 of 33 Flyers shots for the win.
No harm and no foul as I turn my attention to tonight’s big 12-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 48-41-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Islanders vs. Panthers from the BB&T Center in Florida!
Islanders vs. Panthers Betting Odds
- Islanders (+110)
- Panthers (-121)
- Islanders +1.5 (-222)
- Panthers -1.5 (+192)
- Over 6 (+102)
- Under 6 (-113)
Islanders vs. Panthers NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
Remember when we were waiting for the Islanders to come back down to earth last season? Well, they didn’t, and they are proving once again this season that they are indeed for real and play with more structure than just about every other team in the NHL.
The Islanders sit second in the Metropolitan Division with a 20-7-2 record on the season including an 8-5-1 mark on the road.
They’ve alternated wins and losses over their last five games and have three wins in that time, most recently earning a 5-1 win in Tampa Bay against the Lightning on Monday to begin their two-game trip through Florida.
If you are looking for the advanced numbers to back up what the Islanders are doing this season, you’re out of luck.
In fact, the Islanders have some of the worst peripherals in the league. At 5v5 play on the road this season, they rank 27th with a 45.88% corsi for percentage (CF%), also 27th with a 44.16% scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) and 28th with a brutal 39.92% high-danger chances for percentage.
However, for some reason, the raw numbers come out in their favor, thanks in part to their goaltending which ranks second with an .873 high-danger save percentage on the season and third with a .942 5v5 save percentage on the road this season.
Of course, defense has been the name of the game ever since Barry Trotz took over beginning last season.
They’ve mostly been excellent defensively at even strength as their 76.9% mark on the penalty kill away from home ranks 20th.
There’s not much to write home about offensively here, either.
Their 2.50 goals per game on the road sits in a tie for 21st while they do have a solid road power play that sits 13th with an 18.4% mark on the season.
The Islanders are the only team in the NHL that deploy a strict alternation of their goaltenders, and after Semyon Varlamov earned the win in Tampa on Monday, it would appear that it’s Thomas Greiss’ turn in Sunrise tonight.
Both have been great this season, but Greiss has been phenomenal. He enters this one sporting a 2.24 GAA and .930 Sv% on the season, numbers extremely similar to the 2.28 GAA and .927 Sv% he posted a season ago.
He’s been better at home, however, and owns a 2.86 GAA and .919 Sv% with just a 3-4-0 mark across seven road outings this season.
The Panthers enter this one having won just three of their last eight games, however their defense has actually improved substantially of late as Sergei Bobrovsky has seemingly started to find his game.
They have also won two of their last three, however, and have allowed just four goals in that time, most recently holding a strong Tampa Bay offense to just two goals despite losing that contest on Tuesday by a 2-1 score.
Bobrovsky was actually brilliant in that one, allowing just those two goals on a whopping 48 shots on goal.
After such a disastrous first seven weeks to the NHL season, Bobrovsky’s 3.19 GAA and .898 Sv% on the season still leaves plenty to be desired, but that’s not telling the story.
Bobrovsky finished the month of November with a 3.24 GAA and .896 Sv%.
However, he’s begun the month of December with an eye-popping 1.35 GAA and .965 Sv% across three outings, all of which have come at home.
He now owns much better numbers at home this season with a 2.92 GAA and .913 Sv% at the BB&T Center with an ugly 3.53 GAA and .875 Sv% on the season.
The Panthers have slipped a bit of late, but they are still tied for sixth with 3.56 goals per game at home this season, but thanks to their goaltender they have improved to a share of 20th with 2.92 goals against per game at home this season.
The improvements on the back end have largely come at even strength as the Panthers have long had an excellent home penalty kill this season that now ranks second with an 88.9% mark on the season.
There isn’t much to take from the Panthers in terms of their advanced numbers at home.
Their 50.14% CF% at 5v5 at home ranks 21st, their 51.14% SCF% mark ranks 19th and their 48.70% HDCF% mark actually falls all the way to 28th.
Here we have a team in the Islanders – despite some iffy advanced numbers – that simply continues to prevent goals with the best of em’ this season.
We also have a team in the Panthers that are finally seeing that positive regression from Sergei Bobrovsky that they have waited for for quite some time. Bobrovsky sat out a couple games while Chris Driedger briefly took over, and he’s come back sizzling hot – exactly what head coach Joel Quenneville was looking for.
While they own a good home offense and power play, they were certainly quieted in those departments on Tuesday. As noted, they have the second-best penalty kill at home this season.
As a result, I’m looking for a low-scoring affair in this one.
I’ve preached a turnaround from Bobrovsky for too long and I simply owe it to myself to ride the hot wave that I am so patiently waited for from the two-time Vezina winner. There was just no way he continued to produce such disappointing results.
I’ll also rely on Greiss and the Islanders second-ranked road defense to keep the Panthers in check in this one.
The under is 3-0-1 in the Panthers’ last four and a whopping 7-0-2 in the Islanders’ last nine, seven of which have come on the road.
I’ll look for this one to stay under the six-goal total tonight.