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Posted at 4:45 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. Six. That’s the number of games the Islanders have won in a row. In their last game, the Isles went into St. Louis, scored four times on 14 shots on net the entire game and won 4-3. That’s how you do it. Spend the entire game in your own end and come out smelling like roses. During the Isles six-game streak, they played Buffalo and Toronto in consecutive games and allowed one goal combined on 76 shots against. They had 51 shots. The Isles only loss over their last 10 games was in Vegas when they were outshot 47-21 and lost 4-2. The Islanders PDO of 1030 ranks third best luckiest in the league. Over the past month, their PDO ranks first in the league and an off the charts score of 1045. Great teams rarely win six in a row over the course of a season. Few teams will win nine out of 10 games this entire year. The Isles are not a great team and what they’re doing this season past the halfway points defies logic. We’ll give the credit for every point they have earned but we won’t concede that our read on this team is way off or that the underlying numbers are misleading. The Isles usually get outplayed, out-chanced and outshot.
The Isles have a home and home series on deck with the Rangers after this one. This game also marks the 10th straight in which the Isles have had to travel to their next destination. After a Dec 17 home game, the Isles traveled to Colorado, Arizona, Vegas and Dallas before returning home for one lousy game against the Sens. They subsequently hit the road again for games in Toronto and Buffalo before returning home for a game against Chicago. Then it was on to St. Louis and now back home for one more game here. That’s some extensive travelling over the last 22 days for a team whose good fortune figures to run out. At some point, the puck just isn’t going to bounce their way every game.
In December the Hurricanes went 4-8-1 despite a strong 54% possession rate. Every year the Hurricanes look like they’ll finally put it all together and every year they fall flat on their face. There is no team more frustrating to bet on because when you do bet on them, you have to hold your breath every time the opposition os buzzing around the net. Carolina’s lack of stable goaltending has been its Achilles Heel for years. Enter Curtis McElhinney. McElhinney has started three of the ‘Canes last five games and has allowed two goals or less in all of them. The ‘Canes have reeled off four wins in a row. With stable goaltending comes more confidence from everyone. Players aren’t afraid to make a mistake and they don’t feel like every scoring chance is a vital one. We’re suggesting that poor goaltending is correlated to everything else that happens on the ice. The ‘Canes are a possession monster, like Vegas, Tampa Bay, San Jose and Nashville and as long as their goaltending is just average, they are going to win a lot more games.
Finally, Carolina has scored 17 goals in their last four games, all wins. Analytics saw that coming and we mentioned it last week before its win over Columbus. The lowest 5-on-5 shooting percentage in a season since 2007-08 is 5.7% by Arizona in 2014-15, one of three sub-6% seasons. Carolina is looking to join that club, currently sitting at 5.9%. If Carolina scored at just last year’s rate, an already woefully inept 7%, the team would have scored 17 more goals this season. That’s worth about three wins, enough to put Carolina in the thick of the playoff race. Analytics say that Carolina is unlucky and it also strongly suggests how horrific the team is at finishing. It’s not to say anyone expects average shooting from Carolina, it’s that even if you expect last year’s terrible efficiency rates, the team should still be in the playoff mix. That the Hurricanes have been this bad at converting shots to goals, especially given how good their shot locations are is truly mind-boggling. Things are evening out for the Hurricanes and if the the same thing occurs to the Islanders, we’ll be cashing this ticket. Carolina will 100% outplay the Islanders and if the Isles win again, oh well.
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Carolina +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)