Friday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: New York Islanders vs. Edmonton Oilers Betting Preview
Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Islanders celebrate a goal against Vancouver.
- The Oilers have a new coach and are favored in tonight's game against the Islanders.
- New York has been getting things together, so might it have value as a road underdog against a struggling team playing under a new coach?
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.
Islanders vs. Oilers Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Another new era begins.
The Edmonton Oilers will play their first game under their new interim head coach Jay Woodcroft when they host the New York Islanders as part of a four-game NHL slate on Friday night.
With the Oilers five points out of a playoff spot, Dave Tippett was shown the door on Thursday. Meanwhile, with an enormous hill to climb to get back to the postseason themselves, the Islanders are looking to use a busy month of February to make a move up the Eastern Conference standings.
Here’s how the two squads that duked it out for NHL supremacy in the early ’80s stack up this week, and how you should back this contest.
Islanders Trying to Start Rolling
Forty games into their 2021-22 season, the New York Islanders are sitting at .500, with a 17-17-6 record. That’s pretty decent, considering they were 5-10-5 after their first 20 games, and still haven’t completely found their stride.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Islanders are 15 points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, which is held by the Boston Bruins. But they have still played fewer games than any other team in the NHL — and eight games fewer than seventh-place Washington, which is 19 points ahead but have cooled off in recent weeks.
The Islanders still have some runway, and Barry Trotz is determined to use it. Before the All-Star break, following a 3-0 shutout loss to Seattle on home ice, he said he expected more from his team on this road trip.
In their first game back, the Islanders’ players delivered. The club with the fourth-lowest scoring rate in the league (2.40 goals per game) exploded for three goals in the first 3:56 of the first period against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. The Islanders cruised to a 6-3 victory despite being outshot 37-27 and only owning a 45.6% share of expected goals at 5-on-5 — a good result, but perhaps not a sure sign that all their problems are solved?
Overall, the Islanders’ underlying numbers over their past 10 games are decent. They’re ranked 10th overall with an expected goals rate of just over 53%. Over those 10 games, where they’ve gone 6-4-0, they’ve scored a solid 3.1 goals per game, given up just 2.4, and executed well on the penalty kill, at 88.9%. The power play has still been an issue, connecting at just 14.3%.
At the moment, the Islanders are healthy. In net, Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov have been sharing responsibilities.
It’s not yet clear who will start in Edmonton on Friday — as part of a back-to-back set that includes an arguably tougher game in Calgary on Saturday. Sorokin earned the win in Vancouver on Wednesday and has the better stats, with 5.9 goals saved above expected. Varlamov is at -0.9.
Oilers Begin Anew Under Woodcroft
We often see NHL teams respond well when a new coach steps in — snapped out of their malaise, knowing their level of accountability has just increased and hoping to make a good impression on the new decision-makers.
By all accounts, Woodcroft was effective and well-liked during his time as head coach of the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. He also has history as an assistant coach with Edmonton under Todd McLellan. So he has already worked with many players on his new roster, from stars like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl down to emerging talents that he has helped develop, such as Kailer Yamamoto, Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod.
Can Woodcroft build a system that helps protect the Oilers’ goaltenders? That has been the club’s Achilles’ heel this season.
Mike Smith returned to action this week, following his latest injuries. In back-to-back outings against the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks, he gave up four goals in each contest, and now sits at -5.4 goals saved above expected for the season.
Will Woodcroft tap the 39-year-old Smith to play his third game in four nights? Mikko Koskinen posted a 4-0-1 record in his last five starts, but has been in COVID protocol since returning from the All-Starbreak. So, the alternative is Stuart Skinner — another player who has shone under Woodcroft in Bakersfield. Since mid-December, Skinner is 3-1 in his four starts with the Oilers. His last outing was a 7-2 win over Montreal on Jan. 29.
Injury-wise, Edmonton has a couple of holes on the left side of the defense. Kris Russell has missed the last three games with an undisclosed issue, and Duncan Keith is in concussion protocol after being injured on Wednesday.
Also, forward Zack Kassian suffered a fractured jaw against the Blackhawks. He’s expected to miss at least a month.
Two poor showings from the Oilers this week got their coach fired. But the bookmakers still like their chances on Friday night, giving them odds of just under 60% that they’ll secure a win.
That new-coach bump could certainly be a factor. But at this point, it seems like Edmonton’s foundational challenges are running deeper than those of the Islanders. The visitors made a statement on Wednesday that they have come back from their break in the right headspace, and seem determined to try to salvage their season.
On New Year’s Day, the Islanders eked out a 3-2 overtime win over Edmonton at UBS Arena. There’s no guarantee that they can replicate the outcome on Friday night. But at pretty significant plus money, the Islanders represent the smart value pick for this matchup.
Pick: Islanders moneyline (+125); play down to +110
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