I hope you followed last night’s NHL pick between the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs as we hit our biggest winner of the year with the Avs coming through with the 6-3 upset victory at lovely +165 odds.
It didn’t look good early as the Maple Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 lead and even had another goal called back on an offside, but the Avs rallied against a sloppy Leafs team and certainly deserved the win. Colorado outshot the home side by a 38-20 count, although the score is a tad misleading as the Avs potted a pair of empty net tallies with Toronto pulling their goalie with just under three minutes left in regulation.
We will continue to search for value and I thought the Avalanche brought plenty of that upside into last night’s matchup. I’m glad to net a huge winner as we move onto tonight’s NHL pick between the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders.
Don’t look now but the St. Louis Blues sit just three points back of a severely crowded Wild Card race in the Western Conference while the New York Islanders have more than surpassed expectations as they hold down the second Wild Card spot in the east thanks to eight wins over their last 10 games.
Tonight will mark the second half of back-to-back games for the Blues as they dealt the Washington Capitals a 4-1 loss at Capital One Arena in Washington just last night. It was St. Louis’ third straight win and fourth in five tries.
While the Blues have found some offense during their recent stretch of good play, it’s been the defense and goaltending that has carried them during this run. St. Louis has allowed just one goal in each of their last three games while they have allowed one goal or less in four of their last five. All told, they have averaged 1.20 goals against per game over their last five.
Enter Jordan Binnington. Every season the NHL gets some feel-good stories that appear, and this guy is one of them.
Drafted in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Blues, Binnington didn’t make his first career NHL start until this year, although he saw just under 13 minutes of relief duty in the 2015-16 season. All the 25-year-old has done in the NHL this season is post a 1.45 GAA and .941 Sv% across three starts and five appearances.
Binnington has yet to allow more than one goal in a start and owns a .974 Sv% in his three starts on the season.
Perhaps we should have expected some solid play, albeit not to this level, from the rookie as he posted a stout 2.08 GAA and 927 Sv% in 16 AHL games prior to his call up. He also posted a 2.05 GAA and .926 Sv% in 28 AHL games last season.
It’s also nice to see the Blues defense as a whole playing better as Jake Allen got last night’s win in Washington, showing this team can play defense right now regardless of who is in goal.
Keep in mind that the Blues have actually been excellent defensively on the road this season, where they will play tonight, averaging just 2.44 goals against per game away from home, good for second league-wide.
Perhaps the biggest defensive surprise of the season is these New York Islanders. The NHL’s 31st ranked defense from last season has transformed into the league’s third-ranked defense this season under new bench boss Barry Trotz. With almost the exact same personnel on the blueline, Trotz has this team playing some quality defensive hockey this season.
One reason why the Isles rank near the top of the league in team defense is due to goaltender Robin Lehner. He is quietly putting together an elite season between the pipes, posting a 2.21 GAA and .926 Sv% in 21 starts and 23 appearances on the season.
The 27-year-old Swede is tied with the Kings’ Jack Campbell for the NHL lead with that 2.21 GAA.
In terms of offense, there isn’t much to write home about in this matchup.
The Islanders are tied for 14th with three goals per game on the year while the Blues rank 22nd with 2.84 tallies per game. At home, the Islanders fall to 20th with 3.05 goals per game while the Blues sink to 26th with just 2.44 goals per game on the road.
I just don’t see a lot of upside for offense in this one. Both goaltenders are playing outstanding right now and the offenses aren’t exactly juggernauts, especially that of the Blues. I don’t see St. Louis pushing the envelope having played 24 hours earlier and the Islanders have went under the total in three of their last four at home.
I will look for a low-scoring affair from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn tonight.