Today’s NHL Prop Picks and Best Bets: Varlamov Shuts the Door on St. Louis

With the Islanders locking down opposing defenses at even strength, New York netminder Semyon Varlamov should benefit most when he takes the crease on Thursday. Read more in Neil Parker's latest NHL prop picks.

Feb 22, 2024 • 14:42 ET • 4 min read
Semyon Varlamov New York Islanders NHL
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The NHL slate is loaded to the brim with 11 games and several tape-measuring matchups stand out from the pack Thursday.

Favorites in the Stanley Cup odds go toe-to-toe at PNC Arena with the Carolina Hurricanes hosting the Florida Panthers, while a Metropolitan Division showdown between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils is second-screen worthy during the early wave of games.

The marquee matchup among the nightcaps features the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs visiting the injury-riddled Vegas Golden Knights, and the Boston Bruins will also look to complete the Alberta sweep as a short road favorite in the NHL odds against the Calgary Flames.

Here are our top NHL player props and free NHL picks for all the action on Thursday, February 22.

NHL prop picks and best bets for February 22

Picks made on February 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Read full analysis of each pick.

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Today’s NHL prop picks and best bets

Prop bet #1: No deal with the Devil for Vinny

The New York Rangers could be without No. 1 scorer Artemi Panarin (lower body) Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, and I don’t think it’s properly priced into Vincent Trocheck's odds. Panarin paces the Blueshirts in goals (32), assists (43), and power-play points (31), and Trocheck’s numbers dip considerably when he's not skating alongside Panarin.

Trocheck and Panarin have clicked for 4.9 goals per 60 minutes over the past two seasons, and Trocheck drops to a 2.82 mark when he isn’t sharing the ice with the Russian star.

New Jersey has been incredibly inconsistent this season, and goaltending has been a major shortcoming. Still, there have been signs on home ice of late, with New Jersey sporting a .919 team SV% across its past four at the Prudential Center with star center Jack Hughes in the lineup, including a .934 mark at five-on-five. 

Additionally, Trocheck’s 2.62 points per 60 are the second-highest mark of his career, and he’s missed the scoresheet in six of his past 13 games. With or without Panarin in the lineup, there’s a dose of statistical correction ahead of Trocheck’s scoring.

Because of the long odds, this is a potential half-unit play.

Vincent Trocheck prop: Under 0.5 points (+175 at Bet99)

Prop bet #2: Bolts zap Carlson

The Tampa Bay Lightning have allowed 13 goals across consecutive home losses, and No. 1 goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has allowed 13 goals with a .840 SV% across his past three starts. He’ll return to the crease against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, and I’m anticipating a much better defensive showing from the Lightning in front of him.

Washington ranks 30th in goals per game, and No. 1 defenseman John Carlson is in a clear statistical decline with a career-low 0.8 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five. He’s 44th among regular defensemen in points per 60 overall (1.33), which is both well below his 2.15 mark over the previous two seasons and his lowest total since the 2013-14 campaign. 

Because of the defensive struggles Tampa Bay is going through, I think we’re landing better odds on fading Carlson's points than we should be. There’s no denying his go-to role, it’s just that it isn’t consistently translating into offense. He’s missed the scoresheet in eight of his past 14 contests, and I’m more of a believer in the Lightning tightening it up defensively on home ice than Carlson suddenly turning back the clock to his prime offensive form. 

John Carlson prop: Under 0.5 points (+110 at Bet99)

Prop bet #3: No blues for Semyon

The New York Islanders have surrendered just 1.81 goals and 2.19 expected goals per 60 at five-on-five through 10 games since Patrick Roy took over behind the bench.

Those marks respectively rank fourth and second across the league, and New York now has each of its top six defensemen jumping the boards for the first stretch in months. It’s a good setup for backup Semyon Varlamov to return to form after playing sparingly since the holiday break and missing time with a lower-body injury.

The St. Louis Blues have scored the 24th-fewest goals per game (2.91) and rank 22nd with a 17.9 power-play percentage. I also downgrade the Blues offense even more because they rank 27th in goals (2.28) and 29th in xGF (2.3) per 60 at 5-on-5.

The Islanders are also among the most disciplined teams in the league, taking the fourth-fewest minor penalties at 5-on-5 and averaging the sixth-least shorthanded time (4:43) per game. 

Semyon Varlamov prop: Under 2.5 goals against (+105 at Bet99)

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