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NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi outlines his prediction for Tuesday's game between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Prediction: Can We Trust the Penguins?

In a demonstration of the NHL's scheduling excellence, there will be a whopping 14 games on Tuesday following a day with just one. There are a few spots of potential value that I'm considering, but the one that stands out is the matchup between the Penguins and the Islanders. Here is my prediction for the game.

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New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Prediction

The Penguins (42-22-10) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win on Sunday over the Predators, but the pressure remains on. They lead the Capitals by four points for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division, but the Caps have two games in hand. As such, this week's home-and-home against the Islanders will be a pivotal moment in determining whether the Penguins can hold a top-three spot in the division or not. If they cannot, they will likely slide to the second wildcard spot, setting up a first-round matchup with the East-leading Panthers. Expect Pittsburgh to come out of the gates hard on Tuesday.

New York's season is all but over. The Islanders (33-29-9) are 15 points out of a playoff spot with 11 games remaining; they will be golfing when the playoffs start in a few weeks. Their last outing was a poor showing, a 6-1 loss to the Blues in which St. Louis dominated from start to finish. The Isles will look to bounce back here with a stronger showing against a top opponent.

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Despite the Islanders' 5-2 record in their last seven games, their underlying results have been awful. Their expected goals results have taken an extreme nosedive since mid-March, which is an ominous sign for their chances in upcoming games. Meanwhile, the Penguins have maintained their status as one of the league's top even-strength teams—their 5v5 expected goals share of 53.74% ranks sixth in the NHL. The Islanders trail in 20th with a share of 48.13%.

Pittsburgh also has an advantage in goal. Tristan Jarry, who ranks 11th amongst all starters with 13.4 goals saved above expected, is the probable starter for the Pens. On the other side, it isn't certain whether Varlamov or Sorokin will get the nod for the Islanders. Sorokin has had a better year than his compatriot, posting 9.7 goals saved above expected to go with a .927 save percentage. Either way, Jarry has the edge.

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The one thing in New York's favor is the fact that Evgeni Malkin will miss the contest due to suspension. He has not been playing up to the levels he reached during his prime, but he has still been a quality contributor for the Penguins. That being said, there is value on Pittsburgh at this price point, even after Malkin's absence is taken into account. Bet the Pens down to -125.

New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick

Pick: Penguins ML (-125) (Bet $125 to Win $100)

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Article Author


Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.


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