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Islanders vs. Penguins Odds & Pick: How to Bet New York in Game 2 (Tuesday, May 18)

Islanders vs. Penguins Odds & Pick: How to Bet New York in Game 2 (Tuesday, May 18) article feature image

Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Palmieri (No. 21).

  • The Islanders look to take a 2-0 lead against the Penguins on Tuesday night.
  • The arena in Pittsburgh will have increased capacity and a sense of urgency after the Isles took Game 1 in their bid for an upset.
  • Matt Russell breaks down the matchup below and the betting strategy in which he sees value in betting New York.

Islanders vs. Penguins Odds

Islanders Odds+110
Penguins Odds-135
Over/Under5 (-140 / +115)
TimeTuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via BetMGM.

As I prepared for the Stanley Cup playoffs, pouring over the eight series, getting ready for The Action Network preview podcast and Best Bets post, only one series involved two teams whose metrics in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on "THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast," would indicate that the wrong team was favored.

Here’s how the teams stacked up in regular season:

High-Danger Chances For 5v5513435
High-Danger Chances Against 5v5395470
High-Danger Conversion Rate 5v514.0%16.3%
High-Danger Goals 5v57277
Expected Goals Share 5v551.6%49.3%
Power Play %18.8%23.7%
Penalty Kill %83.7%77.4%
Starting Goaltender GSAA/60 min..274*.034

Note: Ilya Sorokin started Game 1, and his GSAA/60 minutes was .619.

After cashing with the Isles +110 in Game 1 and getting the head start on the +130 series price, we’re faced with something of a dilemma heading into Game 2.

Do we press our luck with another bet on the Isles moneyline, knowing that if they can get a second win in Pittsburgh, we’ll be in great shape with the Isles series price? Or do we ignore our perceived edge and sit out a game that will see the Penguins come out with a vengeance?

Islanders Facing More Hostile Atmosphere

The New York Islanders are never going to be considered the favorite against the Pittsburgh Penguins as long Sidney Crosby is around.

However, the Islanders have now beaten the prince’s Pens five straight times in the playoffs, dating back to their sweep of Pittsburgh two years ago. I was on the Islanders to win that series too but can assure you that I didn’t win a bet on them in Game 2. I figured it would be too good to be true that they could swipe both games on the Pens’ home ice.

Looking at what the Islanders can do to repeat history, starts with some statewide Pennsylvania legislation. Typically, after losing a game in the playoffs, any hockey team worth their salt would come out inspired early in the following game. I add a 5% win probability for that element, as the underdog Isles will have to withstand early physicality and pressure.

This will be considerably more difficult as the capacity at PPG Paints Arena will be increased for this game. That means the Isles will be experiencing an environment that they haven’t in quite some time. I would expect that to die down after the first period, but the first 20 minutes should be a challenge.

As for the numbers, the Islanders weren’t necessarily the better team at even-strength in the first game. New York was on the short side of the High-Danger Chances at even-strength, as the Penguins had 10 to its 6. However, metrics often go out the window when your goaltending falls apart.

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.

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Malkin's Return Would Be Huge Boost

The Islanders had star goaltender Semyon Varlamov scratched shortly before Game 1, but it was Pittsburgh that is going to ask more from their man in the crease on Tuesday night.

Even though the Pens lost in overtime, it was their goaltending that was drastically to their detriment. Tristan Jarry gave up two very shaky goals on seemingly harmless shots that beat him over his glove hand. Whether this was a trend that the Islanders can take advantage of again remains to be seen, but stopping either shot would have likely resulted in a Penguins win. The overtime winner for New York was also one that Jarry would likely rather have back, but the shot at a tough angle over his shoulder can be excused somewhat.

Pittsburgh was good enough for 2.4 expected goals at 5-on-5 to just 1.9 for the Isles. They even got a goal from Crosby, who was held to just one assist in the series two years ago.

Crosby’s success is particularly critical should his partner in crime, Evgeni Malkin, be held out of action again. The Penguins need both their big guns in order to make up for whatever issues they might be having on the back end of the ice. Obviously, Malkin returning would be another added boon to the Pens’ chances and has to be considered when building a fair price in order to bet this game.

All these things falling the Penguins way would probably bring them back around to favoritism in my numbers.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Nothing has changed from Game 1 to 2 from a season-long metrics standpoint, which should make the Islanders a bet here.

However, between a potential Malkin return and the Penguins' urgency to not to have history repeat itself, betting on the Isles could result in a situation where the Isles would be playing from behind. Though I wouldn’t make a straight bet on the Penguins for the game at their price of -135. I would need something closer to -110 for that.

There’s a pair of more complicated ways to play this game.

Let me introduce you to the “Team to score first wins: NO” prop. This is a good prop to play in closely lined games that you expect to have more than a couple goals for each side. If you bet that the team to score first doesn’t win, you’ll be doing so at a payout of around +180.

Should the Isles get the first goal, you’re backing the favored Pens the rest of the way at a much better underdog price. If Pittsburgh translates the energy in the building into a goal, then you’re “stuck” backing the Isles, the team we like more anyway, at an improved price, hoping that they can take advantage of Jarry as part of an effort to regroup and get the stranglehold in the series that they did last time around.

The other, more conservative way to play this game, is to wait to bet the Isles live after they weather the Penguins' early storm. Even if New York ends the first period down 1-0, you could take a shot with the Isles at a bigger underdog number.

Certainly if they get out of the first 20 minutes tied, that’s a good sign for Long Island.

Pick: Islanders live after first period (if tied or down one goal)

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