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NHL Betting Odds & Pick for Bruins vs. Islanders: Expect Defensive Struggle on Long Island (February 25)

NHL Betting Odds & Pick for Bruins vs. Islanders: Expect Defensive Struggle on Long Island (February 25) article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Connor Clifton.

  • The Bruins have been one of the top teams in the NHL this season, but the Islanders have had their number.
  • Will that change on Thursday night on Long Island?
  • Pete Truszkowski previews the game with his eye on the under in a defensive battle.

Bruins vs. Islanders Odds

Bruins Odds -129
Islanders Odds +112
Over/Under 5.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.

Like many expected, the Boston Bruins lead the NHL’s East Division entering play on Thursday night. The Bruins have done nothing to dispel the notion that they are Stanley Cup contenders through the season’s first 16 games. 

The Bruins have lost just three games in regulation to this point, but two of those losses have come to the New York Islanders. Will Boston be able to figure out the Isles when it visits Long Island on Thursday night?

Boston Bruins

New year, same Boston Bruins.

The Bruins remain one of the top teams in the league, playing their patented patient, grinding and defensive style. The Bruins are giving up just 2.25 goals per game and their underlying metrics back up the defensive dominance. Boston ranks top five in shots against, shot attempts against and expected goals (XG) against. 

Charlie McAvoy has blossomed into one of the best defensemen in the league and has helped make the losses of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug relatively insignificant. The defensive core might be filled with a bunch of lesser-known players, but the team’s collective system and commitment in its own zone is obvious. 

Both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have been average between the pipes for Boston, but that’s more than enough when you consider Boston’s defensive ability. Additionally, based on their track records, I’d expect improvement from the goaltenders moving forward.

As good as the Bruins are defensively, they are rather pedestrian offensively. Despite a seven-goal outburst at Lake Tahoe on Sunday, their offensive generation is questionable at best. They rank bottom-10 in XG scored and high-danger chances created per hour at 5-on-5. 

Their top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak remains among the most feared units in the league, but outside of that, the Bruins don’t have much added punch. David Krejci is injured and players like Craig Smith, Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle are underperforming. 

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New York Islanders

Speaking of great defensive teams with poor offenses, meet the New York Islanders. Like Boston, the Islanders are top five in the league, giving up just 2.33 goals per game on average through their first 18 contests. 

Despite the awesome defense, New York has just a +2 goal differential, which suggests its offense doesn’t produce much. That would be an accurate assumption, as the Isles rank 25th in goals per game, averaging 2.44 per contest. 

The underlying metrics have the Isles a tad better than average, posting a 52% XG rate thus far. The defense leads the way there as well, as New York’s mark of 1.92 XG/against per hour is the sixth-best mark in hockey. The Isles give up fewer than eight high-danger chances every 60 minutes at 5-on-5, which is a top-three mark in the league. 

Offensively, the Islanders are middle of the road in XG per hour, but the results haven’t been there. Their shooting percentage is bottom-10 in the league, but that’s not unexpected due to lack of high-end talent on the roster. Mat Barzal is sensational, but outside of him, the team has a lot of solid but not elite options. Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau give the Isles some solid options, but they aren’t game changers. 

New York has gotten good goaltending from Semyon Varlamov. The Russian netminder has stopped nearly 93% of the shots he’s faced while posting a goals saved above expectation mark of +2.14. 

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Bruins vs. Islanders Best Bet

While it’s tempting to bet the Bruins as a short favorite, it’s not my favorite bet in this game. Boston struggles to score at times and the Islanders do a good job of turning games into coin flips with their defensive prowess. 

With both teams near the top of the league defensively, scoring chances should be at a premium in this one. Both teams are good at limiting high-danger chances while neither team is particularly good at creating them offensively. 

Both teams rank in the top five in goals against per game. Just as important, both teams rank in the bottom third in scoring goals per game. Islanders games this season are averaging just 4.77 goals and with these two teams, I don’t think that will change.

Pick: Under 5.5 Goals

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