I made a pair of free NHL picks last night and neither of them hit, although we surely deserved a split on the night.
There are some results you can live with and others are irritating considering the outcome doesn’t match the game itself.
The one I can live with is the loss I took while rolling the dice on the Red Wings.
The Red Wings are a bad team and the Flyers are a bad road team, but Philly deserved this win. It was pretty close with a 1-0 score after two periods, but the Wings had just 11 shots at that time and just 16 total in what ended up being a 3-0 loss.
I also had the Maple Leafs in regulation at -125 over the Panthers without Aleksander Barkov, and that pick looked beautiful for much of the game.
The Maple Leafs dominated this hockey game in outshooting the Panthers 28-14 at even strength where they controlled more than 69% of scoring chances and 70% of high-danger scoring chances.
They held the Panthers to just 11 shots after two periods and just three in the second. Unfortunately, Frederik Andersen was hurt in the first period and didn’t return for the second, and Michael Hutchinson surrendered three goals and 10 third period shots and the Leafs blew a 3-1 third period lead and dropped this one by a 5-3 score.
I mean, you take a team to win in regulation and they dominate their way to a 3-1 third-period lead and you get a bad injury bounce and it all goes away.
It’s a tough one to swallow, but that’s how it goes sometimes in this gig and I’ll do nothing by turn my attention to a big-time 13-game NHL schedule tonight!
Season Record: 86-76-1
Now let’s take a look at a free NHL pick featuring the Stars vs. Islanders from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn!
Stars vs. Islanders Betting Odds
- Stars (+105)
- Islanders (-125)
- Stars +1.5 (-235)
- Islanders -1.5 (+195)
- Over 5 (-130)
- Under 5 (+110)
Stars vs. Islanders NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these teams before I get into my final pick!
Tonight marks the second game in as many nights for the Stars after they dealt the Rangers a 5-3 loss last night at Madison Square Garden where special teams were volatile.
In other words, the Stars went 2 for 4 on the power play to help their cause, but also allowed three goals on three Rangers power plays to hurt their cause.
Nonetheless, they earned the win despite being heavily outshot by a 36-21 count – their second win in as many games with both coming on the road to start this three-game trip.
Although they’ve played a couple of weak defenses against the Devils and Rangers to begin the trip, that’s now eight goals over two games for a Stars team that doesn’t score much.
They have averaged just 2.65 goals per game on the road this season – roughly the same as they average at home – which puts them 19th in the league in that department.
After going 2 for 4 last night, the Stars’ road power play improved to a share of 11th – interestingly alongside these Islanders – with a solid 20.3% clip.
This teams makes its mark on defense, however, and they’ll only go as far as that defense takes them.
The Stars are tied for eighth with 2.81 goals against per game on the road this season, although that’s a far cry from their second-ranked 2.19 mark at home.
After going 0 for 3 on the penalty kill on Broadway last night, the Stars sit 19th with a 78% mark on the kill away from home.
The Stars are an interesting possession team on the road. They don’t control the possession much, but they do find a way to generate chances.
At 5v5 on the road, the Stars rank 27th with a 46.40% Corsi For%, but also sit 10th with a 49.71% Scoring Chances For% and third with a 51.84% High-Danger Chances For%.
They’ve also benefited from good goaltending on the road with a .928 Sv% that sits eighth in the league, and it’s going to be Ben Bishop looking to keep up the good work after Anton Khudobin earned the win last night.
Bishop is having another brilliant season for the Stars, posting a 2.31 GAA and .925 Sv% in 35 games on the season entering this one tonight.
However, his splits certainly don’t favor the road.
He owns an outstanding 2.02 GAA and .934 Sv% on the season in 22 starts at home, but slips to a 2.87 GAA and .909 Sv% in 12 starts and 13 appearances on the road.
Bishop bounced back from a tough outing against the Maple Leafs to finish January with a 29-save outing in a win over the Devils to kick off the month of February.
Once looking like a top-flight team in the east again this season, the Islanders have slipped into the pack with some uneven play over the last couple of months.
They’ll enter tonight’s contest sitting in the second Wild Card spot in the east and just one point ahead of both Carolina and Toronto for that spot, albeit with a couple games in hand on both of those clubs.
Nonetheless, they’re just 4-3-3 over their last 10 and have dropped four of five including three in a row at home entering this one tonight.
The Isles are a much better offense at home where they have averaged 3.19 goals per game on the season, which ranks 17th but still well above the 2.50 they score on the road.
The defensive end of the ice has been a rare worry of late and it really hasn’t been that way since the beginning of last season.
The Islanders still rank 10th with 2.77 goals against per game at home this season, but have also allowed 13 goals over their last three at home.
Their special teams haven’t been that great at home this season as their 17.9% clip on the power play is tied for 21st and their 80.3% mark on the penalty kill sits 18th league wide.
They haven’t received the same level of goaltending they did last year, and while it’s still been good, you wonder if their poor possession numbers have caught up to them, save for high-danger scoring chances.
At 5v5 at home this season, the Islanders rank last with a 46.71% Corsi For% and 26th with a 49.06% Scoring Chances For%, but they do improve all the way to 10th with a nice 54.41% High-Danger Chances For% as well.
Despite not quite stacking up with last season, their goaltending has still been good this season and that duty will go to Semyon Varlamov for this one tonight.
Varlamov enters this one sporting a 2.59 GAA and .915 Sv% on the season to go along with a 15-8-4 record on the campaign.
At home, however, he’s been worse where he owns a 2.91 GAA and.907 Sv% on the season and a 7-5-3 record.
Tonight marks his first start of February after he scuffled in January when he posted a 3.10 GAA and .900 Sv% in seven outings and a horrid .848 Sv% over his last three outings.
Here we have two teams cut from a very similar cloth.
Both will go as far as their defensive play takes them, and both have, for the most part, received quality goaltending.
The Islanders have scuffled lately to be sure, but I like the chances of a bounce back here on home ice tonight.
Barry Trotz-led teams don’t often succumb to a free-fall, and while their play has stalled of late, I’ll look for the veteran bench boss to rally his troops for this one against a team playing their second game in as many nights.
It should be noted that the Islanders aren’t the only team not at their best defensively.
The Stars have allowed an average of 3.83 goals per game over their last six and at least four in three of the six and five or more twice in that time.
Despite the rare five-goal total, I’m not quite convinced this will be a high-scoring game despite the way both defenses have played of late.
What I am looking for is for the Islanders to buckle down and win a game that they should, at home against a team on a back-to-back.
At these odds, I think we’re getting a good home team at a good price, so let’s take advantage.