Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:45 AM EST
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. There’s this Twitter account, not as active as it once was but still in existence, called: You Can’t Predict Baseball. Its montra is highlighting those unbelievable, unforeseeable moments that happen from time to time in big-league baseball, or, as stated by the account’s bio, “Because sometimes Scooter Gennett hits four home runs in a game.”
We’ve been saying since Day 1 of this site that you cannot predict outcomes and that value is the only way to bet. As it turns out, it’s actually harder to predict hockey than it is baseball. Case in point is the New York Islanders, a team that entered the season with a goaltending duo that featured a career backup and a so-so starter who was let walk by a bottom-feeding club. Not only are Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss the best one-two punch in any crease in the NHL this season, but they’re now in the conversation for the best single-season pair in league history. Thomas Greiss was fresh off of a campaign in which his save percentage fell below .900 and his goals-against average came within reach of eclipsing four. Robin Lehner was let go by the Sabres as a restricted free agent and in search of his third organization in five seasons after an up-and-down tenure in Buffalo. The duo has thrown the rest of the NHL one of the biggest curveballs ever and is the only reason we’re going to lose our SEASON POINTS TOTAL bet on the Islanders. Next year, these two will very likely go back to being who they are. It could happen in the playoffs too.
If you think the Isles are playing good hockey, think again. What we’re constantly hearing about regarding the Islanders is their great improvement on defense. In fact, the Isles will be the first team since expansion to go from dead last in goals against one year to first overall in goals against the following year. Once again we’ll point out that is result based only and goes to prove once again how luck-driven this sport is. What that doesn’t tell you is that the Islanders defense is garbage. They aren’t allowing goals because their goaltenders are standing on their heads and have been for 76 games. What the Isles great goals against record doesn’t tell you is that the team ranks DEAD LAST in the NHL in Scoring Chances Against since the beginning of February, a span of 28 games. Not the Blackhawks, Flyers, Senators or Leafs have allowed more scoring chances than the Isles. Yeah, Robin Lehner/Thomas Greiss are part of the team but it is unreasonable to expect one or the other to bail them out almost every night. We repeat, that great Islanders defense that the media keeps praising is giving up more scoring chances over the past seven weeks than Ottawa, Chicago, Toronto and Philly or anyone else that you can think of.
We acknowledge that the Jackets are returning from a four-game trip but that’s fine with us, as it adds to the Isles appeal and in return provides us with better value, as the market continues to drool over results and not performance. There is no time for being weary, as Columbus is two points out of a playoff spot entering this one with six to play so we cannot overemphasize how important this one is. Furthermore, the Jackets are 0-3 against the Isles this year but have outchanced them and outshot them in all three games. Can a team lose four times in a row to the same inferior team? Of course they can but it’s not likely. Luck has held up in this matchup three out of three times already this year but this time around, it's not unreasonable to expect that the superior team will emerge victorious once out of four times or 25% of the time.
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COLUMBUS -½ +106 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.12)