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Thursday NHL Free Play

Road Weary Ducks Look to Stop Skid at the Islanders

There’s a solid NHL play for Thursday when Anaheim travels to take on the New York Islanders. There could be scoring aplenty as both goaltenders are struggling – while their offenses are also firing at peak levels. Both teams have combined to lose six of their last seven games, so something has to give in the 12/21 NHL free pick.

Anaheim In The Midst of a Lengthy Road Swing

12/21 NHL free pick
G John Gibson’s teammates aren’t doing him any favors in stopping the shot attempts.

Ducks usually fly South for the Winter, not East. On Thursday night Anaheim will be playing their fifth consecutive road game, and their third contest in four nights. It hasn’t been a very successful visit to the George Washington Bridge for Anaheim, as they’ve lost consecutive contests to the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. The Ducks look like a tired squad in those games too, being outscored 4-9.

John Gibson was in net for one of those losses, a 1-4 defeat to the Rangers two nights ago. Gibson is just 10-11-4 on the season, but has the 10th best save percentage in the NHL at .920. The reason that hasn’t equated into success is because the Ducks are fired upon at will, allowing the second most shots on goal in the league at 35.3 per game. That stat might be a recipe for trouble in the 12/21 NHL free pick as the Islanders shoot on average 31.1 times a game, 17th in the NHL. New York is also 2nd in scoring.

New York Doesn’t Exactly Stop the Puck

12/21 NHL free pick
Josh Bailey is firing on all cylinders this season and should have plenty of attempts against the Ducks.

The Islanders offense is going to decide who wins the 12/21 NHL free pick – or it could be their defense (or lack thereof). The New York defense is dead last in the NHL in goals allowed per game at 3.5 a contest. Thursday night’s starting goaltender Thomas Griess has the third worst save percentage in the league at just .883. Greiss surrendered 5 goals on just 26 shots on Tuesday (a 3-6 loss to Detroit) and has allowed 3+ scores in 9 of his last 10 outings.

Not all is lost for the Islanders on Thursday however. The New York offense has scored 3+ goals in four of the last five games and features two of the league’s best scorers in Josh Bailey and John Tavares, who are tied for third in the NHL with 42 points. Bailey has five goals in his past three games and 11 total points in his past six games. C Tavares has 11 points in his last five games and LW Anders Lee has five goals in six contests. That’s one of the most talented lines in the league.

12/21 NHL Free Pick – Betting

There’s a lot of love on the Islanders tonight with 73% of the public not minding the odds of NYI -145. The line has moved only a bit since it’s open. Both teams are coming in off one night’s rest, but the Islanders have an advantage there in playing four of their past five at home. Speaking of home ice advantage, New York is 10-3-1 at the Barclays Center this season, while Anaheim is a commendable 6-6-1 on the road. The Ducks are just 1-6 in their last seven road tilts however and 5-16 in their last 21 on one days rest. The Ducks are 1-4 in the last five head to head meetings.

Even though all the trends are pointing towards a New York win, you’d be insane backing Thomas Greiss right now. But then again the Ducks are playing tired which is why the 12/21 NHL free pick is a total play. The ‘over’ is 13-3 in the Islanders last 16 home games and 9-3 in the Islanders last 12 on one days rest. New York should get their scores against a road weary Ducks defense that gives up a ton of shots. The Ducks should net a few against a struggling Greiss as well.

Pick: Anaheim Ducks / New York Islanders ‘Over’ 5.5

Carl Taylor

Every loss is a chance to learn a lesson. That being said, wins are so much more enjoyable. Follow along to tap into the wisdom I've learned from 20 years as a sports bettor. Follow along on Twitter for more picks and DFS news @dailydogsports.

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