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NHL Odds & Picks for Islanders vs. Devils: Sunday’s Betting Value On New York (Jan. 24)

NHL Odds & Picks for Islanders vs. Devils: Sunday’s Betting Value On New York (Jan. 24) article feature image

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Semyon Varlamov.

  • The Islanders and Devils meet for the second time in four days, although this time the matchup shifts to Newark.
  • The Isles entered the first matchup as heavy favorites at -180, although the line is much lower this time and the Devils might be without their starting goaltender.
  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down why he's backing New York for a second straight win over New Jersey.

Islanders vs. Devils Odds

Islanders Odds -160
Jets Odds +135
Over/Under 5.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday evening and via BetMGM.

The New York Islanders will look to repeat Thursday’s performance on Sunday, as they go for their second straight win over the New Jersey Devils. 

In Thursday’s game, the Islanders closed as -180 home favorites after the news that Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood was put on the COVID-19 list. After an impressive performance and a 4-1 victory, the Islanders are much smaller favorites against the same team. 

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New York Islanders

The Islanders’ identity is no secret. This is a team that prides itself on its defensive effort and hindering its opponents’ quality of chances. While some might find the style boring, you can’t argue the results, which included an Eastern Conference finals appearance last season. 

Head coach Barry Trotz must have been happy with his team’s defensive effort on Thursday night. New York held the Devils to just two High-Danger Chances (HDC) at even strength. The Islanders have now given up just five HDC combined in their last two games at 5-on-5. 

The Isles’ top defensive pairing of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech might be the most underrated duo in the league. Pulock is most known for his hard shot and offensive abilities, but he’s also great in his own zone. Pelech’s stick work and body positioning are amongst the best in the league.

In Thursday’s game, the pair held Jack Hughes without a shot on goal and only one attempt after he started the season with six points in three games. 

When the defense breaks down, the Isles can lean on Semyon Varlamov. No goalie in the league has gotten off to a better start than Varlamov, who has started three games and given up just one goal. His 6.3 goals saved above average leads the league by a wide margin. 

While the Isles won’t “wow” anybody offensively, the team has plenty of talent to do damage. On Thursday, the Isles’ top line of Anders Lee, Mat Barzal and Jordan Eberle did most of the damage, with Barzal accumulating three points and Eberle scoring twice. Beyond the top line, Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau make up a solid secondary group.

New Jersey Devils

While the New Jersey Devils got off to an impressive 2-0-1 start, they found out how quickly things can change because of COVID-19. 

Blackwood appeared on the COVID list right before puck drop on Thursday and has remained on the list through Saturday. There is no word on whether Blackwood has tested positive or if he was just a close contact. 

Blackwood was quickly becoming a story early in the season, coming off a 47-save performance in the Devils win over the Rangers earlier in the week. He has stopped 109 of 115 shots he’s faced this season.

However, with Blackwood unavailable and Corey Crawford’s sudden retirement during training camp, the Devils now have a goalie problem.

Scott Wedgewood got his first NHL start in nearly three years on Thursday. While he wasn’t awful, making 31 saves, his dip in quality from Blackwood was apparent. Wedgewood is 28 years old and has been a minor leaguer for most of his career. The team also claimed Eric Comrie off waivers earlier in the year, but he has struggled mightily in eight career NHL appearances. 

Outside of the goaltending, the Devils are in the midst of a rebuilding project. Their roster has some nice pieces like Hughes, Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban, but the holes are common and obvious throughout the lineup. With Nico Hischier still unavailable, the Devils’ offense ranks bottom half of the league in most offensive metrics. 

With Blackwood in net, this team has potential to offer value to bettors throughout the season. They have some nice pieces with a solid goalie, but without Blackwood between the pipes to cover up some deficiencies, New Jersey becomes a lot less appealing.

Islanders vs. Devils Best Bet

I’m a bit surprised at this line. The Islanders closed as -180 favorites on Thursday at Nassau Coliseum and I don’t think an hourlong trip to Newark warrants a 40-point shift on the moneyline. There are no fans in the building, and the Islanders won’t even have to stay in a hotel. 

The combination of the Devils’ uninspiring offense and the Islanders’ ability to shut teams down makes me believe this is a bad matchup for New Jersey. It’s hard to envision a world where the Devils can generate a lot of offense.

This line seems relatively fair if Blackwood can return for the Devils. In this 2021 world, we have to deal with a lack of information. Like I mentioned earlier, Blackwood could just be a high-risk close contact which would allow him to be activated and play in this game. He also could have tested positive, which would cause him to miss a couple of weeks. 

At this current price, I’m betting the Islanders. I don’t expect the line to move much if Blackwood returns but if he is out, I expect some line movement to make the Isles a larger favorite. In a sense, it’s a bit of a free roll. 

If you want to wait until closer to game-time to make your decision, that’s understandable but you risk missing out on potential value.

Bet: Islanders -129 (up to -135 with Blackwood, up to -145 without)

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