Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:30 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. OT included. The Flames are on the Wild Card playoff bubble right now, as they sit just two points behind the Avalanche for the final Wild Card spot. These games are crucial for all these bubble teams but so what. The market puts far too much emphasis on these “must win” games. If every team won when they were in these spots, no team would miss the playoffs. We’ll say it again that the “must win” angle is grossly overrated and overused but what it does for guys like us is provide us with inflated prices like the one here.
Calgary returns home from a three-game East Coast trip through Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Buffalo and picked up five out of a possible six points to keep them in the thick of things. Now a home date with the Islanders followed by a game against its biggest rivalries, Edmonton on deck, puts the Flames in a difficult spot here.
Just over three weeks ago, the New York Islanders were clinging to a Wild Card berth and now with an eight-game losing streak on hand, New York is looking up from a distance, as they find themselves eight points back of a playoff spot, almost guaranteeing another disappointing year in New York. After being eliminated from the playoffs on the final game of the year last season, that makes for two disappointing years for soon-to-be unrestricted free agent John Tavares. The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton writes that this eight-game losing streak comes at a one of the worst times of the year — right during their playoff run — which will only hurt the Islanders’ chances of re-signing Tavares.
Newsday’s Arthur Staple points a finger at Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy, who is most likely the team’s top defenseman, writing that his game has slowly gone south like the direction the team is heading. This is the same writer who couldn’t praise the Islanders enough when they were killing it earlier in the year, which goes back to the NHL media and the betting market putting so much emphasis on results because that’s all that matters. We can sum up what’s wrong with the Islanders in one lousy word ---goaltending.
There is one explanation for the Islanders woes and it’s not because of their coach or GM. Goaltending decides more games than anything else. Without it, you cannot win in this league. We could give you example after example of weak goaltending costing teams everything. Last year Tampa Bay missed the playoffs and this year they are in first place with essentially the same team. Why? Ever since Corey Crawford went down, Chicago keeps losing. With outstanding talent, Winnipeg has missed the playoffs two years in a row but this year they are a virtual lock to get in. Why? Calgary is in a position to make the playoffs this year. Why? Remember a couple years ago when the Wild fired Mike Yao? Soon afterwards they picked up Devan Dubnyk and have been winning ever since. Why? The St. Louis Blues are on a seven game losing streak. Why? All these writers are so hung up on results that they don’t see what is right in front of them. Weak goaltending not only costs the team games but it deflates the entire bench too. With all due respect to Cam Ward and Scott Darling, Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss might be the worst goaltending duo in the league but the Islanders may have found a gem in today’s goaltender, Christopher Gibson.
After some impressive performances in goal for the Isles, several players were clamoring for Gibson to get more playing time, as the team is floundering over their past eight games. Gibson, who has led the team to two overtime games (both losses) has performed admirably as he boasts a 1.86 GAA and a .953 save percentage in his only two NHL appearances this season.“He’s played phenomenal, starting in Pitt and again here tonight,” defenseman Brandon Davidson said. “I think he’s kind of earned the right to be the guy.” The Islanders have picked up points in three straight games and have a new found energy about them with a reliable for now goaltender backing them out. They are on the verge of a win and this could very well be their day. Most importantly is that the price makes the Isles very playable.
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
N.Y. Islanders +158 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.16)