NHL Odds & Picks for Islanders vs. Bruins: Back New York Against Injured Boston (April 16)
Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ilya Sorokin.
- The Bruins go for back-to-back wins over the Islanders on Friday night after a convincing 4-1 win on Thursday.
- Boston is still dealing with a plethora of injuries, while the Isles have been consistently good throughout the season.
- Michael Leboff breaks down why he’s backing the Islanders to bounce back.
Islanders vs. Bruins Odds
|Time||Friday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday morning and via DraftKings|
The Boston Bruins defeated the New York Islanders, 4-1, on Thursday night to stay four points clear of the surging New York Rangers in the race for the No. 4 seed in the East Division. The Bruins were all over the Islanders from the jump and ended up winning the expected goals battle 4.25 to 0.95. It was a rare dud from the Islanders and perhaps a sign of a resurgence from the Bruins, who have been struggling over the past few weeks.
While their win on Thursday was comprehensive, it’s pretty clear that the Bruins have taken a step back in 2021. When they were at the height of their powers, the Bruins were a defensive behemoth with good 5-on-5 numbers and a terrific power play. Boston’s 5-on-5 offense wasn’t prolific during that stretch, but it didn’t need to be thanks to the defense, special teams and goaltending.
That formula hasn’t paid off in the same way in 2021. After a blinding 10-2-2 start to the season the Bruins have gone 13-10-4 with a -7 goal differential and a 50.1% expected goals rate in their last 27 games. Those aren’t terrible numbers but the Bruins were the favorites to win the East Division coming into the season so to see them scrapping for a playoff spot is definitely surprising.
The Bruins defense is still holding its own, allowing just 1.97 expected goals against per hour, but pedestrian goaltending and a toothless offense has dropped Boston towards the middle of the division. Coming into Thursday night’s contests the B’s ranked 28th in 5-on-5 scoring and 29th in creating expected goals.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.
Injuries have plagued the Bruins all season and they’re still missing key defensemen Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk, but the team did address its lack of depth on the blueline by acquiring Mike Reilly at the deadline. Reilly, a gifted puck-mover, has fit in seamlessly with his new team and head coach Bruce Cassidy was not shy about handing him big minutes.
The B’s offense should also tick up a bit down the stretch as they were able to land play-driving forward Taylor Hall from the Sabres, but I would not expect what we saw on Thursday night to be the norm for this offense. It’s a good bet that there will be some improvement, but I don’t think Boston is going to morph back into some juggernaut with Hall in the mix.
I’d also count on the Islanders to be more formidable than they were on Thursday. Boston deserves credit for the way it played, but efforts like the one we saw from the Isles on Thursday have been few and far between since their run in The Bubble last summer. It’s also worth noting that the Isles have the best record in the NHL on the second night of back-to-backs (21-3-3) since Barry Trotz took over before the 2018/19 season.
It’s not easy to go right back to a team after watching them get stomped the night before but New York’s has been one of the league’s best 5-on-5 teams all season. The Isles rank fourth in goal share (56.6%), second in expected goals rate (55.2%), fifth in goals allowed per 60 (1.99), fifth in xG allowed per 60 (2.01) and first in high-danger chance rate (59.4%). I’d rather bet on that long-term form than get caught up in what we saw in one bad game.
It’s also probable that the Islanders will have a pretty nifty goaltending edge in this game as Ilya Sorokin is set to start for the visitors, while Boston will likely turn to Jeremy Swayman. Sorokin has quietly put together an encouraging rookie campaign for the Isles with a .915 save percentage and a +2.19 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) and while Swayman has been pretty good filling in for Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, he’s only got four games of NHL experience and does not have the same pedigree as Sorokin.
Perhaps the Bruins are putting things together, but I’ll side with the long-term form of the Islanders in this one. I like the Isles at -105 or better on Friday night.
Pick: Islanders +106 (play to -105)
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