Avalanche vs. Islanders: Lock 'Under' 5.5 as Your NHL Pick

David Lawrence

Monday, November 30, 2015 12:30 PM GMT

Both the Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders have hit cold spells to wind down the month of November. Let's review the NHL odds so we come up with the sharp NHL pick.

Momentum
The Avalanche have won two of three heading into Monday’s affair but they’ve mostly been a downer this season. Even including that stretch, they’ve still dropped four of six. Since splitting their first four games, they have dropped 12 of their last 19 games. The main issue has been goaltending as they can’t keep their opponents off the board. In the month of November, only the Winnipeg Jets have allowed more than the 3.15 goals per game that Colorado is allowing. The good news is that the Avs offense has been on fire. They are scoring 3.38 per game this month, which is tied for tops in the NHL. However, it’s not really translating into wins for them.

The Islanders can’t seem to get any momentum going themselves as they are just 12-12 on the season. They have just two wins in their last five and have lost nine of their last 15 games. Offense has been an issue for them this month as they’re scoring just 2.46 goals per game. While that’s not bad, it ranks them 17th in the NHL and that’s below what we’d expect from them.

 

Projected Starting Goalies
It looks like we’ll see Semyon Varlamov and Jaroslav Halak in this one, which means both teams are going with their No. 1 goalies.

Varlamov has won two of his three starts since returning from injuries but he has a lousy .890 save percentage on the season. He hasn’t looked good at any point – especially in November when he’s allowed at least three goals in five of his six outings. On the year, he’s allowed three goals or more in 10 of his 13 starts.

As for Halak, he got the night off in the Isles latest game as Thomas Greiss got the start. Halak has been fairly solid this season as he has posted a .921 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA. That GAA is actually the second-best in the NHL right now. The Islanders haven’t provided him with much scoring support, though, as they’ve won just two of his last seven outings. They have totaled just 20 goals in his last nine starts. He has a 1.30 GAA against the Avs with a 4.02 record against them.

 

Outlook
The Islanders are laying about -175 on the NHL odds in this one. This is a challenging game to handicap as Varlamov gives up goals in bunches, the Avs score a lot and tend to play overs. However, they aren’t winning a lot of games these days so betting them on the road doesn’t make a lot of sense. On the flipside, the Isles are also struggling, so laying a lot of juice with them doesn’t add up for our NHL picks. And when Halak is in net, they tend to play unders as he’s solid and the team doesn’t score much for him. With the Isles being at home, I’m going to bank on that. I see them winning in a 3-1 type of fashion, so I’ll stick with the under in what appears to be a tough game to handicap.

NHL Pick: Under 5.5 (-115) at Heritage

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