Islanders vs. Bruins NHL Odds & Pick: Isles Are a Live Dog vs. Boston on Thursday (March 25)

Islanders vs. Bruins NHL Odds & Pick: Isles Are a Live Dog vs. Boston on Thursday (March 25) article feature image

Al Bello/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders celebrates.

  • New York in 4-0 against Boston this year and holds top position in the East Division.
  • The Bruins are playing their first game in a week stemming from COVID-related issues.
  • Pete Truszkowski explains why he's backing the Islanders as an underdog.

Islanders vs. Bruins Odds

Islanders Odds+110
Bruins Odds-130
Time7:00 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM

The New York Islanders currently find themselves in first place in the NHL’s East Division. Prior to the season, most expected to see the Boston Bruins at the top of the circuit. That’s why they play the games.

The Islanders have won the first four meetings against the Bruins this season. With Boston coming off a COVID-related shutdown, will they be sharp enough to knock off the Isles for the first time this season?

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New York Islanders

At this point, you probably know what the New York Islanders are all about. Over the past two-plus seasons, the Isles have developed a reputation as one of the stingiest teams in the league. 

Coach Barry Trotz preaches the details and accountability in his team’s game, and they’ve had a lot of success under his tutelage. Previously, a lot of hockey pundits doubted how sustainable the Isles’ play was and whether they could continue winning at such a high rate.

However, this year’s New York Islanders have even the skeptics believing. The Isles rank first in the league when it comes to high danger chance percentage while finding themselves in the top five in terms of expected goal rate. New York will allow you to spend time in the offensive zone, but they limit the quality of chances they allow while expecting their goaltending to handle the easier shots. 

No team generates more high danger chances per hour at 5-on-5 than the Islanders’ 11.8. Their expected goals scored per hour ranks 13th, but they’re scoring at the 6th best clip in the league at 5-on-5. Unfortunately, the team will be without leading goal-scorer and captain Anders Lee for the remainder of the season. In his absence, the team has gotten solid contributions from players like Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Mat Barzal, JG Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom. 

However, offense isn’t even what these Islanders are known for. New York ranks second in high danger chances against per hour and fifth in expected goals against. The pairing of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech is one of the most underrated pairings in the league. The goaltending duo of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin have combined for a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) mark of +6.3. 

Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins are set to play their first game in a week as five players found themselves on the COVID list over the past few days. Three of them — David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Craig Smith — have been activated and are expected to play in this game. Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly remain on the list. 

While the reason for the break wasn’t ideal, you could argue that this Bruins team needed a break with the way they have been playing lately. Considered one of the elite teams in the league, the Bruins were playing middling hockey. In fact, Boston has won just six of their last 15 games. 

Under the hood, things aren’t what they usually are for the Bruins. The team ranks 16th in terms of expected goal rate, posting a number below 50%. We expect to see Boston near the leaders every year, but that hasn’t been the case this season. 

The main reason for the Bruins' struggles has been their offense. Boston ranks 28th in goals per hour at 5-on-5, and their underlying metrics don’t suggest they deserve much better. The Bruins rank 29th in expected goals scored per 60 minutes and 29th in high danger chances created. Outside of the top line with Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Boston has not gotten a lot of offensive contributions. 

Boston’s defense is still quite good, ranking top 10 in expected goals against, high danger chances against and shot attempts conceded. Usually, the Bruins find themselves at the very top of the defensive metrics but they haven’t been as dominant this year. Tuukka Rask has been solid but not his usual elite self to begin the year between the pipes. 

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Islanders vs. Bruins Best Bet

When at their best, these two teams play very similar styles. They rely on their defensive efforts to keep them in games while scoring enough goals to win. Usually, the Bruins are the best in the league in terms of playing that style of hockey. 

However, through the first half of this season, that hasn’t been the case. The Islanders are slightly more dominant defensively, have received better goaltending than Boston and have had a much better offensive attack to support their defensive prowess. 

Boston hasn’t played in a week, so we’re faced with the age-old question of the benefits of rest versus the potential of rust. Maybe the week off will allow the Bruins to regain the form we’ve come to expect from them, but if they pick up where they left off, then the Isles should be able to take advantage. 

The Islanders are one of the hotter teams in the league and have been for quite some time. Even without Lee, New York has won four of six games. The Isles have won 18 of their last 24 games with multiple extended winning streaks in that period.

The Islanders do a good job of staying in every game. Their defense and goaltending keeps games close even if they are playing poorly. Any chance I get to play them as an underdog, I’ll do it.  I think New York wins this game around 50% of the time, so at plus-money, they're a good bet. 

Pick: NY Islanders +110 (+100 or better)

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