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NHL Free Pick: Islanders vs. Capitals

After a sluggish round-robin in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals appeared to have the advantage on the No. 7 seed New York Islanders in their Round of 16 series. Then, the Islanders promptly dumped the Caps 4-2 in Game 1.


Will it be more of the same in Game 2? The Islanders got to this round on the backs of their defense. How long can they hold down Washington’s top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson?

Game: New York Islanders (39-24-10) vs. Washington Capitals (42-22-9)

When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, August 14, 2020

Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, Canada

Current ML: WAS -120 Total: 5.0

TV Coverage: NBCSN

The Islanders were extremely stingy in their qualification series against the Florida Panthers. New York allowed only three goals in 5-on-5 play during the entire series.

In Game 1 against the Capitals, the Islanders once again did not give up an even strength goal. New York was beaten on the power play twice by T.J. Oshie who gave the Caps a 2-0 lead at the 11:18 mark in the second period.

The Islanders would go on to score the next four goals, including Josh Bailey’s go-ahead goal at 6:52 of the third period. Bailey’s score came while shorthanded.

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz was formerly the Capitals head coach, the same coach that brought Washington a Stanley Cup in 2018. Trotz will continue to outscheme his former team throughout this series.

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That’s what makes Game 2 more interesting. With the Islanders ability to shut down opposing offenses when at even strength, New York will be able to keep itself in every game of the series. They will have to limit the number of man advantages they give away though.

After having seen the Islanders once, you can expect the Capitals to counter. Washington isn’t all that bad defensively either with John Carlson leading the way. The Caps held their round-robin opponents to 26.7 shots per game. Expect Washington to play much better defensively in Game 2.

The Capitals will still have to overcome the defense of the Islanders and that is going to be difficult. It has been recently. New York is 4-2 straight up against Washington in the last six meetings.

With games being played at Scotiabank Arena, there isn’t really a home-ice advantage, this is very important for hockey bettors to know. That said, the Capitals are the home team once again in Game 2. Funny thing is...the Islanders are 5-0 against Washington in the last five games where they have faced the Capitals on the road.

Washington, surprisingly, has only won three of its last ten games. That, of course, dates back to before the coronavirus put a halt on the season back in March. The Caps lost their first two round-robin games before beating Boston 2-1. That is still their only victory since the NHL restart.

The Caps haven’t scored more than two goals in a game since March. The Islanders defense is going to keep them in this one (as it will the rest of the series). That’s why the better bet is on New York at +109 on the moneyline.

NHL Free Pick: Islanders Moneyline +109

Pick by Coach Rick