Penguins vs. Islanders NHL Pick – February 11, 2021

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To be honest, I’m not even mad with last night’s result despite taking the loss between the Bruins and Rangers.

I noted in yesterday’s piece just how many games have been decided by one goal this season while also detailing how seven of the Bruins’ previous 11 games have also been one-goal affairs.

Well, once again, the Bruins found themselves in extra time for the seventh time in 12 games, but I had the Rangers as big +145 underdogs.

The Rangers had an overtime 2 on 1 broken up by defenseman Charlie McAvoy who subsequently fired a bass off the boards to Brad Marchand who broke in alone and scored the overtime winner on Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev.

In other words, I knew this was going to be an extremely close game and I’m taking the underdog at +145 all day in one-goal games. I felt real good about heading into overtime last night, but the Bruins continue to win in extra time, their sixth shootout/overtime win in seven tries.

Nonetheless, we’ll still look to get things turned around in this Penguins vs. Islanders NHL pick from Long Island!

  • Season Record: 11-17
  • Units: -6.63

Penguins vs. Islanders Betting Odds

  • Penguins (-109)
  • Islanders (-101)
  • Penguins -1.5 (+230)
  • Islanders +1.5 (-275)
  • Over 5.5 (-105)
  • Under 5.5 (-104)

Penguins vs. Islanders NHL Pick Breakdown

Penguins

Offense

The Penguins haven’t been all that dynamic on offense so far this season, and for the most part the team’s top players have been healthy, something that was not the case when they climbed into the league’s top 10 despite a myriad on injuries in their top six.

They’ll enter this one sporting the league’s 18th-ranked offense in averaging 2.82 goals per game on the season, but their power play has been a killer at just 13.9% for the season, good for 23rd league wide. That’s certainly something to keep an eye on as there is elite-level talent in that group, but they just haven’t clicked to this point in the season.

That said, the Penguins have actually scored more at 5v5 than expected. Their 2.62 goals/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 2.19 expected mark, but plenty of clubs are scoring goals above their heads this early in the season. The Pens also rank 15th in scoring chances for/60 and 12th in high-danger chances/60, as per Natural Stat Trick.

One thing to keep an eye on tongiht will be the status of Evgeni Malkin. Unfortunately, we won’t know until closer to game time as he’s currently listed as a game-time decision after leaving yesterday’s practise with irritation in his eye.

Obviously missing Malkin hurts the offensive picture, but even more so right now as it appears he’s finding his game after a slow start, notching a goal and two helpers over a three-game point streak after registering just three points in his team’s first eight games of the season.

Jared McCann is going to miss tonight’s contest with a lower-body injury as he’s set to miss notable time with a week-to-week designation at this point.

With just four goals over their last two games, the Penguins will look to get their offensive mojo back in this one tonight.

Defense

The Pens’ defense has yielded some ugly results so far this season, but the defense corps isn’t exactly to blame, at least not entirely.

For one, that group has been ravaged by injuries. Their best defensive defenseman in Brian Dumoulin remains out of the lineup, as does Marcus Pettersson who seemed to be coming into his own last season. The team has Michael Matheson back in the lineup after he missed time, but this back end hasn’t been healthy for much of the season.

The result has been 3.73 goals against per game, good for 29th league wide, better than only the Ottawa Senators (4.14) and Vancouver Canucks (3.94). Their 26th-ranked 72.2% penalty kill has also done them no favors.

That said, at 5v5, the Penguins rank 8th in scoring chances against/60, 19th in high-danger chances against/60 and 14th in expected goals against/60. Their 2.85 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 2.01 expected mark, so it’s abundantly clear that the Pens have deserved a better defensive fate than what we see on the surface.

Still, they’ve allowed three or more goals in five straight and four goals in three of their last four. In fact, only once in 11 games have the Penguins allowed fewer than three goals, a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers 11 days into the season.

We’ll see if they can regroup for this one tonight.

Goaltending

Goaltending is mostly to blame for the team’s defensive woes this season.

Despite the team limiting scoring chances at 5v5 this season, the Tristan Jarry/Casey DeSmith goaltending tandem has produced the league’s 30th-ranked save percentage at 5v5 in the form of an .887 mark. That said, their ghastly .696 Sv% on high-danger chances is by far the worst number in the league.

For comparison, the league’s worst 5v5 save percentage last season was the San Jose Sharks at .901 while the worst high-danger rate was the Minnesota Wild at .770. It would appear they should regress positively in this department, but that’s just how bad they’ve been this season.

The good news for Penguins backers tonight is that backup Casey DeSmith gets the starting nod. While he hasn’t been great, Tristan Jarry and his 3.95 GAA/.857 Sv% will get the night off.

DeSmith’s work has been nothing to write home about, however, as the 29-year-old has worked to a 2.85 GAA and an .882 Sv% in four starts and five appearances. That said, his most recent outing snapped a three-appearance skid as he turned aside 21 of 23 Rangers shots (.913 Sv%), but took a 3-1 loss in the process. He had posted an .867 Sv% over his previous three starts.

DeSmith’s been a quality backup in his NHL tenure, however, posting a career 2.68 GAA and .915 Sv% across 55 NHL appearances. He’s still 3-1-0 despite some tough outings this season and he’ll look to give the Pens some reliability between the pipes, something that’s been few and far between so far this season.

Islanders

Offense

No surprise here as the Islanders are once again one of the league’s most anemic offenses this season.

Their 2.27 goals per game on the season puts them 28th in the league, and their power play has been decent with a 17.5% clip that has them tied for 18th alongside the Vancouver Canucks.

At 5v5 this season, the Isles rank 23rd in scoring chances for/60, 19th in high-danger chances for/60 and 25th in expected goals for/60. They have pretty much deserved their offensive fate at even strength this season as their 2.06 goals/60 on the season sits right in line with their 1.99 expected mark.

Unsurprisingly, it’s been the Mathew Barzal-led top line doing much of the damage, but secondary scoring has been a major concern.

Barzal leads the team with 12 points in 11 games with Eberle and Lee sitting second and third in team scoring, but the following two players are both defensemen in Noah Dobson and Nick Leddy. Their top bottom-nine point producers are Brock Nelson, J.G. Pageau and Cal Clutterbuck, each of whom have recorded just four points in 11 games.

Josh Bailey has three points in 11 games while top prospects Oliver Wahlstrom and Kiefer Bellows have combined for just one point — a Wahlstrom goal — in 11 combined contests. The team clearly misses winger Anthony Beauvillier who has suited up for just five games due to a lower-body injury.

We knew the offense wasn’t going to be the team’s strong suit, but the severe lack of secondary offense is concerning.

Defense

Of course, Barry Trotz’s calling card since taking over has been his team’s defensive structure, and it’s produced quality results again this season.

The Isles sit fifth with allowing just 2.45 goals per game on the season while their 80% penalty kill checks in at 17th.

The Isles’ defense significantly outperformed their advanced metrics last season, and it’s been the case again this season to a degree. At 5v5, the Islanders rank 13th in scoring chances against/60, but also 7th in high-danger chances against/60 and 15th in expected goals against/60. That said, their 2.29 goals against/60 at 5v5 is above their 2.03 expected mark.

It’s mostly the same back end as last season. All six defenders dressing tonight played games for the team last season, and Dobson has been good in his first full tour of NHL duty this season.

They traded Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche in a cap-related move and Johnny Boychuk was forced to retire due to an eye injury, but it’s a familiar group that is well aware of the structure Trotz has implemented since arriving on the season prior to the 2018-19 season.

Goaltending

While rookie Ilya Sorokin has struggled since arriving in the NHL this season, No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov has largely been brilliant between the pipes and he’ll start in this one tonight.

Varlamov was outrageous to begin the season, but following some regression he is coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Rangers on Monday night.

He’ll now enter this one sporting a 1.88 GAA and .932 Sv% across eight starts, going 5-2-1 in the process. He’s certainly been a rock between the pipes for much of the season to this point, but is it sustainable?

I mean, here’s a guy sporting a solid 2.66 GAA and .916 Sv% for his NHL career over a large 501-game sample size. He posted a similar 2.62 GAA and .914 Sv5% last season — his first with the Isles — and also started hot before regressing in the second-half of the season.

Unlike many netminders around the league, Varlamov is due to regress while many of the league’s goaltenders should see their numbers improve after shaking off some early-season rust.

Still, you can’t argue much with results and Varlamov’s have been stellar in the early going.

Penguins vs. Islanders NHL Pick

It would be nice to know the status of Malkin for this one, but I’m going to take the road side here nevertheless.

The Penguins have been solid on defense, but have received some terrible goaltending so far this season, as noted above. At some point, this team is going to get some saves and they’re going to be a far better team for it.

I’m also concerned about the Islanders’ scoring depth. They’re not getting any help up front beyond the top line, but it’s a line that’s now been broken up with Eberle sliding down to the Nelson second line while Trotz looks to get Bailey going alongside Barzal on the top group.

Still, there’s little doubt as to who the superior offense here is. The Islanders are the superior defense, but Varlamov is simply playing well over his head this season and his eye-popping numbers just won’t last much longer.

As many games have been this season, I’m expecting a close affair, but give me the road side on the moneyline here in this East Division contest.

The Bet
PENGUINS
-109
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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.