James Guillory, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Micheal Ferland, Casey Cizikas
Carolina Hurricanes at New York Game 1 Betting Odds
- Hurricanes odds: +121
- Islanders odds: -134
- Over/Under: 5.5
- TV: 7 p.m. ET
- Time: NBCSN
>> All odds as of 11 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NHL odds and track your bets
Both the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes were 80-1 longshots heading into the 2018-19 season. One of them will make it to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Islanders were basically left for dead at several times over the past nine months, starting on July 1 when former face of the franchise John Tavares walked out on them during free agency. The Isles never replaced Tavares’ skill, but remarkably, new head coach Barry Trotz turned them into a defensive force in 2018-19.
Thanks to a well-organized defensive structure, the Isles led the league in Goals Against. Goaltender Robin Lehner, who embodies the “misfit toys” theme of the Islanders, has been superb in his first season on Long Island.
Given their lack of talent and a suspect statistical profile, the Islanders have been underrated by the betting markets, statistical models and hockey pundits all season.
The Isles proved the doubters wrong again in Round 1 as they impressively upset the Penguins in a four-game sweep. The Isles executed a near-perfect gameplan and got terrific goaltending against Pittsburgh and the Isles will need to be the “attention-to-detail” team again in Round 2 as they lack the individual skill that Carolina possesses.
On the other hand, the Hurricanes have a talent-laden roster and they have long been an analytics darling. Every year the Canes are picked by a slew of modelers and respected experts to breakout. This season, they finally came good on all of that promise, qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Carolina led the NHL in expected goals (xG) per 60 minutes (5-on-5) and finished second in shot share during the regular season. The Canes stuck to that recipe against the Capitals in Round 1.
Against Washington, the Canes posted a 59.4% Corsi For and controlled 58% of the expected goals at 5-on-5. Those are terrific numbers and show you which team played the better overall series between the Caps and Canes.
You can expect Carolina to post similarly strong shot metrics against the Islanders, a team that is happy to cede possession and focus on limiting quality scoring opportunities.
During the regular season the Islanders ranked in the top 10 in expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 and Trotz’s team put in a great defensive effort against the high-powered Penguins in the first round.
The Hurricanes also did a great job limiting high-danger chances against the Capitals, but they didn’t create a ton of great opportunities themselves. The Hurricanes’ strong shot metrics and expected goal numbers make them seem like an offenive force, but the truth is that Carolina’s biggest strength is its defense corps.
Interestingly, the Islanders may present a peculiar problem for the Hurricanes because they like to dump and chase, rather than carry the puck into the offensive zone. That strategy could take away some of what makes Carolina’s defense so effective.
The Islanders are typically not going to barrage teams with shots, but they do tend to create quality opportunities at an above-average clip.
I give the edge in the blue paint to New York and Robin Lehner and my colleague Sean Zerillo agrees. Petr Mrazek was strong for Carolina in Round 1, but Lehner had a better regular season and is the consensus No. 1 goaltender in this matchup.
Another hard-to-quantify factor in this series is the coaching battle. Rod Brind’Amour is a first-year head coach for Carolina and has been impressive in his debut, but he’s going up against one of the best in the business in this series.
Trotz has had the Islanders on the same page all season long and he will have them prepared for the stylistic challenges that Carolina presents. Whether the Islanders are able to execute his gameplan is a different story.
Hurricanes at Islanders Game 1 Betting Analysis
This is the part of the preview where I remind you, dear reader, that the writer of this piece is a die-hard New York Islanders fan. I remain committed to being unbiased in these previews, but totally understand if you want to take everything you read here with a grain of salt.