The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils are scheduled to dance at the Progressive Center on Sunday. This is the second meeting between the Devils and Islanders since a 4-1 win for the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday. Semyon Varlamov put forth a tremendous effort in the crease, as he stopped 30 shots on 31 attempts from the Devils.
It was the third win of the season for the Islanders. They advanced to 3-1-0 with six points through four games going into Sunday. The Devils and Islanders are two of three teams that haven’t played five games yet in the East Division. The Islanders are coming off a 35-23-10 season in the Metropolitan Division.
That was an incredibly difficult division, with 80 points only getting them sixth. Their season ended in overtime of Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning ultimately advanced to win the Stanley Cup over the Stars in six games. The Islanders have nothing to feel ashamed about with a loss against the Stanley Cup champs.
It was a disappointing season for the Devils. They were a trendy pick to break out last season, but did nothing other than finish dead last in the Metropolitan. The Devils went 28-29-12 with 68 points. Last is what a game below .500 is what you got in that nightmare of a division. They are off to a 2-1-1 start in the 2020-21 campaign. Jack Hughes will be required to take the next step in his development if the Devils are going to head anywhere.
Hughes scored 7 goals and 14 assists as a rookie through 61 games. There were moments when Hughes looked like a franchise player, but it was not a standout year for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. That said, Hughes is off to a quick start this season, with 2 goals and 4 assists. Jordan Eberle got the better of everyone on the Devils, though, as he led the Isles with a couple of goals on four shots on goal. Head below for our free Islanders vs. Devils pick on January 24, 2021.
New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils NHL Betting Odds:
Islanders vs. Devils Prediction:
The Islanders have been relying on what they know best early in the 2020-21 season. Barry Trotz has his team playing physical hockey, and that’s what you come to expect from the Islanders. The Islanders sort of got away from being that team last season, though. They were ninth in the NHL with 2.79 goals against per game. This is a drop off from first in the league, having conceded just 2.33 goals per game to lead the NHL defensively.
They are getting back to basics defensively, and it’s shown thus far in 2020-21. The Islanders have allowed just 1.5 goals per game through four games to lead the NHL in goals against. Semyon Varlamov has been fantastic between the pipes for the Islanders. The Islanders let Thomas Greiss get away from them, as he signed with the Detroit Red Wings instead of re-upping in Long Island.
Varlamov has made the Islanders feel good about their decision. He has been rock solid with a 0.33 GAA and 0.988 save percentage in three outings. Varlamov has been outstanding against the Devils in his career. He owns a 1.64 GAA and 0.94 save percentage. Varlamov should be able to handle the Devils on Sunday night. The Devils are 28th in the league with just 2.3 goals scored per game, though their defence has been solid, too, with 2.5 goals against per game for eight in the NHL.
The Islanders have been heavily reliant on their defence this season. The offence has potted just 2.3 goals per game, so they’ve had to be strong defensively. They should get another lift tonight against Scott Wedgewood if he gets the call, though. Wedgewood was hammered for 4 goals on 35 shots against the Isles in the recent 4-1 loss.
He made his first start in three years because starter Mackenzie Blackwood is on the Covid-19 list. No word on whether Blackwood will be ready, though he did not practice yesterday. In 2017-18 with the Coyotes, Wedgewood posted a 3.45 GAA and 0.893 save percentage. I will side with the Islanders to make it two in a row over the Devils.