Thursday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders Betting Preview

Thursday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders Betting Preview article feature image

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: The celebrating Islanders.

  • The Islanders are finally back on the ice after another lengthy pause, and take on the Devils on Thursday night.
  • New York is a strong favorite despite playing without its head coach behind the bench.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.

Devils vs. Islanders Odds

Devils Odds+165
Islanders Odds-200
Over/Under5.5 (-110/-110)
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The New York Islanders play their first game in two weeks Thursday when they host the shorthanded New Jersey Devils. Each team has dealt with its fair share of COVID outbreaks. The Islanders had it earlier in the season, and the Devils most recently. They’re both near the bottom of the East, however, and are clawing back to find a playoff spot.

Despite having a ton of players out with injury and in COVID protocol, the Devils actually have fared well in their last six games, going 4-2 since returning from the Christmas break.

It’s been a frustrating season for the Islanders, to say the least. After just missing the Stanley Cup by one game a year ago, the Isles have lost many players to COVID. They currently have the second-most games postponed in the NHL, and are itching to get back on the ice after winning their only two games after Christmas.

Devils Led By Young Core

It was a rough start to the Devils’ season but they've been on a hot streak as of late. They have a ton of players out with injury and/or COVID, including Jesper Bratt, Damon Severson, Janne Kuokkanen, Mackenzie Blackwood, Dougie Hamilton and Miles Wood.

Luckily for New Jersey, its top players will still be available. The Devils are led by a solid young core, including Nico Hischier, Dawson Mercer and Jack Hughes. 

With the Devils’ solid core, they have been very adequate at driving play. The Devils generate the eighth-most high danger chances in the league and are 16th in the league in expected goals per 60 with a 2.41 xGF.

Unfortunately, the power play has struggled, only scoring at a 14.4% rate, which is second-worst. New Jersey has actually been strong on defense and doing a fine job at limiting opposing teams’ high danger chances, which is the 13th best.

Blackwood being out is a major blow to the Devils. They will also be without Akira Schmid, who is also on COVID protocol. Barring anything unforeseen, it looks like Jon Gillies will be the starter. In his two games this season, Gillies has posted a .902 SV% and a -0.2 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected), which has been decent and Gillies will be relied upon in this stretch.

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Islanders Back on the Ice

They're giddy on Long Island as the Islanders are finally playing a hockey game. For the first time in months, the Isles are close to full strength as defenseman Ryan Pulock is close to returning from injury.

Unfortunately, they will be without coach Barry Trotz on COVID protocol. Led by the core of Mathew Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, Brock Nelson and getting great production from Kieffer Bellows, the Isles were really coming into their own before both pauses. Who’s to know if they will pick up where they left off, but having a full squad will be helpful.

Offense was never the calling card for the Islanders, as they always focused on structure and defense. They allow the fifth-fewest high danger chances after a rough start on the back end, showing that they have turned it around.

It should also come to no surprise that the Isles are the second-worst team at driving play, with an expected goals per 60 minutes rate of 1.86 and second worst rate of creating high danger chances. Luckily, the power play has been stronger than usual for them, scoring at an 18.7% clip. 

Goaltending has always been a strength with veteran Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin has taken the majority of starts and has been exceptional posting a .925 SV% and a 5.1 GSAx. Varlamov, who’s backed up, has struggled but is starting to come into his own with a .910 SV% and a -1.2 GSAx.

With the team coming off a long break, I would expect them to go with Sorokin, however, it’s hard to predict who takes the crease, so keep note of that.

Devils vs. Islanders Pick

This should be an interesting matchup. The Islanders play a very tight and structural game, while New Jersey packs a punch with its dynamic offense. With the Devils being very shorthanded, and the Islanders playing their first game in two weeks, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

I see a lot of value in backing the Islanders in this matchup, though. With the Islanders at full strength and the ability to lock down teams, it seems like a great play. Had the Devils been at full strength, I might’ve gone a different route, but I think the Isles have the advantage here.

Pick: New York Islanders -150 or better

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