It was a disappointing night last night, and not because it included a big loss, which it didn’t, but because we were set up for success but couldn’t take advantage.
Setting the tone for the night, or so I thought, was the Maple Leafs who I took at -111 home favorites over the same Penguins team that put the boots to them just two nights earlier.
After a scoreless first, the Maple Leafs dominated in all facets from there, scoring three times in the second and once more in the third before putting the clamps on the Penguins’ offense and allowing all of two shots in the third. It was a beautiful 4-0 win.
At the same time, however, the Washington Capitals were having a difficult time with the ice-cold Montreal Canadiens in Washington where I had the Caps to win in regulation at -125 odds.
They scored first and held a 2-1 lead late into the second, but the Canadiens scored the next two goals and while Washington tied it late, overtime signalled the defeat of my pick before the Canadiens capped the upset in the extra frame.
We bounced right back in the matchup between the Blues and Coyotes where I had the under 5.5 from St. Louis.
It was another excellent call as the game could not have possibly been lower scoring as the Blues held the Coyotes to just 14 shots on goal in a 1-0 win.
As a result, we were set up nicely for a 3-1 night if only the Panthers could beat the lowly Kings as -133 favorites.
They held 2-1 and 3-2 leads in that one, but a thin Kings roster showed a ton of fight in coming back, eventually taking a 5-4 lead late and that stood as the final.
All told, the 2-2 night cost us 0.58 units and I feel like we deserved better.
Nonetheless, let’s take that one on the chin and move onto Friday night’s seven-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 101-85-1
Now let’s dive into this free NHL pick featuring the Red Wings vs. Islanders from the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island!
Red Wings vs. Islanders Betting Odds
- Red Wings (+260)
- Islanders (-320)
- Red Wings +1.5 (-105)
- Islanders -1.5 (-115)
- Over 5.5 (+110)
- Under 5.5 (-130)
Red Wings vs. Islanders NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s check in with each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The last time the Red Wings visited the Islanders, they surrendered an eight-spot in an 8-2 beatdown, so they’ll probably look for improved results this time around.
Favorable results haven’t come often this season, however, especially on the road where the Wings are just 5-25-2 on the campaign.
They did get a favorable result their last time, out, however, and in dramatic fashion as they stormed back from down 3-1 to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 to actually sweep the four-game season series between the two Original Six rivals.
The four-goal effort snapped a three-game streak of scoring just once, but it did give them their third win over their last eight games.
The low offensive outputs are not surprising for a team that will enter this one ranked dead last with just 1.94 goals per game on the road this season while their road power play has also been pitiful with an NHL-worst 10.3% clip.
That power play has scored just once on their last 13 opportunities, good for a 7.7% clip over their last five games.
Things haven’t been much better on the back end, especially on the road.
The Red Wings rank last with 4.09 goals against per game on the road this season and 27th with a 74.7% mark on the penalty kill away from Little Caesars Arena.
Given the possession numbers, none of this should come as a surprise.
At 5v5 on the road, the Red Wings rank last with a 45.08% Corsi For%, last with a 43.50% Scoring Chances For% and 30th with a 41.40% High-Danger Chances For%.
There haven’t been many bright spots this season, but if there is one it’s been goaltender Jonathan Bernier who figures to get the nod tonight as he’s been in goal for 13 of their 15 wins this season.
Bernier has posted a solid 2.89 GAA and .908 Sv% in 33 starts and 37 appearances on the season while his 13-17-2 record is actually excellent considering the Red Wings are 2-26-2 when he doesn’t play. Yikes.
His numbers on the road are similar with a 3.04 GAA and .909 Sv% in 18 appearances, but he’s also been fabulous in the month of February where he’s posted a 2.57 GAA and .917 Sv% across eight starts and nine appearances for the month.
He’s at least given them a chance to win when he is in between the pipes.
While they aren’t in imminent danger of falling out of a playoff spot given their games in hand, the Islanders are flirting with danger.
They recently completed a four-game road trip in which they scored all of two goals, one each in their final two games of the trip after being shut out in the first two.
It’s quite a shocking feat to be sure, and while we now they aren’t built on offense, that’s some seriously appalling output in the midst of a playoff race.
The good news is they have been a far better offense at home this season where they’re tied for 12th with 3.34 goals per game on the season, although just 23rd with a 17.5% clip on the power play at home.
Of course, this team is built to win defensively, and they recently upgraded that blueline with the addition of veteran stay-at-home blueliner Andy Greene courtesy of the New Jersey Devils.
They’ve actually been a better defense on the road than at home, but still rank 12th with 2.79 goals against per game on home ice this season with a decent, yet unspectacular 80.8% penalty kill rate at home, good for 16th league wide.
Defense certainly was not the issue on the road trip, at least not in the final three games as they allowed six goals total in that time but managed to lose all three after taking a 5-0 thumping in Nashville.
Furthermore, the Red Wings won’t be the only poor possession team in this matchup tonight.
The Islanders dodged terrible possession metrics last season and for the most part this season, but perhaps it’s now catching up to them.
At 5v5 at home, the Islanders rank 29th with a 46.74% Corsi For% and 23rd with a 49.31% Scoring Chances For%, but also rank 10th with a nice 54.26% High-Danger Chances For%.
They’ve been helped out by an 11th-ranked .924 Sv% at 5v5 at home, but tonight’s goaltender has been much better on the road than at home.
Indeed, Semyon Varlamov owns some reverse splits on the season as he’s posted a 2.18 GAA and .928 Sv% on the road, but has slipped to a 2.91 GAA and .907 Sv% at home where he’s gone just 9-5-3 on the season in 19 appearances.
Varlamov has played well of late in allowing two goals or less in two of his last three starts, but endured his worst start of the trip in Colorado his last time out, posting an .897 Sv% in that one.
He’s been reliable on the season, but certainly more so on the road.
To me, there’s some serious value potential in the heavy road dogs in this one.
While I’m fully aware of the horrible nature of this current Red Wings team and their results on the road, the Islanders have been tripping over themselves for quite some time at this point and that recent road trip should never be spoken of again.
I mean, there’ not the better offense right now, at all. Yes, they’re better in that area at home, but the fact is that offense is lathered in icicles at the moment and they’ll face a goaltender in Bernier who is playing really well at the moment and has for much of the season.
The Islanders are also worse defensively at home with a so-so home penalty kill while they’ve allowed 3.25 goals per game at home over their last four.
While I think the Red Wings on the moneyline, coming off a big win, is certainly worth a sprinkle tonight, I am going to build in some protection and look at them on the puckline.
That’s right, for the first time this season I am taking the underdog on the puckline.
Let’s say, for instance, the Red Wings reach their rough average of two goals per game on the road. That would mean the ice-cold Islanders offense would have to score four regulation goals to make it a losing pick.
It’s certainly a possibility given the Red Wings are averaging slightly more than four goals against on the road, but not with Bernier in net.
Now, Bernier isn’t confirmed as tonight’s starter, but this isn’t a back-to-back scenario for the Red Wings and Jimmy Howard as pulled from his start on Sunday, so I don’t see why he could get the call here.
To me, the odds we’re looking at here are not indicative of how these two teams matchup up at the moment. I have no faith in the Islanders’ offense while they don’t even have the goaltending advantage in this split as it’s about dead-even by the numbers.
As a result, I’ll take the lowly Red Wings on the puckline to either win this game or lose it by just a single goal.