Free Picks: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders

Penguins vs Islanders NHL
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders, NHL, PPG Paints Arena

Pittsburgh and New York are all too familiar with the significance of defense. Meeting Monday night, the Pens and Isles match up for the final time in the regular season. Coming off a game in which the total goals scored reached 9, I dive deep into the total goals once again for this game. Will it be a high-scoring affair, or will the Pens and Isles battle to a low-scoring finish.

Defense wins championships.

For those that have read my previous work on BetPicks, you might remember me mentioning that the most common NHL score is 3-2. Why is that important? Well, when two challenging defenses meet and the total goals sniff the combined score of 5 or more, I think we need to seriously evaluate the final score outcome.

Let’s look at the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are ranked 13th in total goals against. Not terrible, but not elite either. Pittsburgh isn’t rated highly in shots against per game, or goals against per game either. What I am trying to say is that the Pens are an average defensive team. That is perfect for this situation.

Focusing on the New York Islanders, they have been a top defensive team this season. Whatever metric you like to focus on, New York is a defensive giant in a division packed with high-scoring teams. Despite facing a number of highly offensive teams, the Isles are ranked 5th in goals against.

New York also allows only 27 shots against per game, which is great for the under. It’s not flashy, but I think taking the under of 5.5 total goals is one of the best bets you can make for this game.

For this free pick and prediction, I looked at New York and Pittsburgh’s previous games this season. In 7 games played against one another this season, the average goals per game were 6. While that would be over the total goals of 5.5, I am still confident in this game hitting the under.

The total goals (between New York and Pittsburgh) are skewed by a 6-3 contest that saw 9 goals scored on March 27th. If you take that game away, there would be only 33 goals scored in 6 games played. The average then becomes 5.5 goals per game.

I have learned to not let recent games sway my decision (too much). I think we need to focus on history and its significance for this free NHL pick.

Historically, 3-2 is the most common outcome in NHL history. With the total goals at 5.5, I think smashing the under is the way to go.


  • The total has gone under in 7 of Pittsburgh’s last 9 games.
  • The total has gone under in 4 of Pittsburgh’s last 6 games at home against NYI.
  • New York ranks 4th in goals against per game.
  • 15 of the Islanders’ 19 games on the road have hit the under.

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have always wanted to be a writer and sports are my favorite thing in the world, so I combined the two to make a career. I have been a long-time gambler and sports betting writer that isn't afraid to look at the underdog or specials. I am covering the NHL, MLB and NCAA Football for and am a huge fan of both sports - as well as many others. Follow me on Twitter (@Patrick_Trudeau) so we can talk betting, sports, or why ketchup DOES belong on Poutine.