Expert NHL best bets and predictions for Friday, October 20


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There are only two NHL games on the board tonight, and since I don’t like to force plays, I will only focus on the game I like: The New Jersey Devils take on the New York Islanders. 

Sometimes, having a quiet Friday night in the league is nice, especially as we gear up for a big Saturday slate, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. 

Let’s talk some Devils versus Islanders. 

New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders (+100, 6)

The New Jersey Devils have had a rough week. First, they dropped two straight games on home ice to the  Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers. Then, videos of them getting bag skated at practice were all over the internet. This is a Devils team with very high expectations, as they should, considering that they have one of the best rosters in the NHL.

The New York Islanders vibes are the opposite, as this group feels good after winning their first two games of the season. With that said, the Devils will certainly be the toughest team they have faced to this point, but if Ilya Sorokin can sustain his strong play in net, the Islanders could become a pretty scary team. 

What the Islanders lack in scoring, they make up for in defense. Through two games, they have only allowed two goals against and 42 shots against. They’re making Sorokin’s job easy. New York currently leads the NHL in fewest shots against per game (21.0). 

In his two starts, Sorokin is boasting a .952 save percentage with a 1.00 goals against average. He also has a +1.3 goals saved above expected. 

The New Jersey Devils haven’t announced a starting goaltender yet. My assumption is that it’s Vitek Vanecek, but Akira Schmid does have the better numbers currently. Vanecek is 1-1-0 with a .892 save percentage and a 3.62 goals against average, while Schmid has skated to a 0-0-1 record with a .909 save percentage and a 2.77 goals against average. 

No matter who is in goal for the Devils, they need to dictate the pace. The Islanders aren’t nearly as much of an offensive threat as the Devils. Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt have looked very strong in the team’s first three games. Hughes leads the way with six points (two goals, four assists), while Bratt has five points (three goals, two assists). 

For the Islanders, Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri each have a goal and an assist on the season, but the bottom line is that the Devils are just too fast for them. New York is currently sitting at 29th offensively, averaging 2.00 goals per game and converting at 16.7% on the power play.

The Islanders have the edge in goal, but that’s about it. I expect Sorokin to be tested heavily tonight. The Devils were one of the best road teams in the NHL last season, with a record of 28-9-4. This will be their first away game of the season, and I expect them to come out victorious. 

Bet: *3 Units New Jersey Devils ML -120 (play to -135)


2023-24 record: 14-14-0 (-2.78 units)