NHL Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Islanders vs. Flyers, Stars vs. Avalanche

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Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Khudobin

  • The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue Monday night with a game in each bubble. The New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers face off in Toronto, while the Dallas Stars take on the Colorado Avalanche in Edmonton.
  • The Islanders and Flyers open their series at 7 p.m. ET. The Stars look to take a 2-0 series lead over the heavily favored Avalanche at 9:45 p.m. ET.
  • Our staff analyzes Monday's NHL matchups and gives their favorite bets below.

The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue on Monday night with a game in each bubble.

Game 1 between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers kicks off the slate at 7 p.m. ET and then the Dallas Stars will look to take a 2-0 series lead over the heavily favored Colorado Avalanche in the nightcap.

Here are our favorite bets for Monday’s NHL action:

Sam Hitchcock: Islanders-Flyers Over 5 Goals (+100)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

By setting the total goals at five for Game 1, DraftKings is signaling that they expect the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers’ series to be low scoring. It isn’t hard to understand the rationale.

Of the goaltenders in the second round, only Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom has a better Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) than Flyers goaltender Carter Hart and the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov. Also, Islanders coach Barry Trotz is synonymous with good defense. But even with those ingredients baked into the total-goals line, I like the over.

Part of my impulse to go contrarian lies with a skepticism toward the Flyers’ success. In the first round at 5-on-5, only the Chicago Blackhawks had a worse expected goals against per 60 minutes than the Flyers. Against Montreal, Philadelphia surrendered 31 shots per hour.

Unlike Montreal, the Islanders have the scoring capability to convert on their chances. During the postseason the Islanders have the best goals per game of any team in the East. Against Washington, the Islanders scored at a clip of nearly three goals per 60 minutes. At even strength, I love the Islanders ability to bury Hart with shots.

The key to picking the over also lies with special teams. Of the teams still alive, Philadelphia and New York stand out for their penalty taking, racking up four penalties per 60 minutes.


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 cited from Evolving Hockey.


But the Flyers’ power play holds the key to the over. Their power play has struggled mightily during the postseason, though it was middle-of-the-pack during the regular season, hurdling the 20% mark.

One issue vexing the Flyers during the playoffs is that they have been afflicted with awful puck luck on the power play, registering a shooting percentage of 8.7. During the regular season. that shooting percentage was at 14.51. But they are in luck because the Islanders have been dreadful on the penalty, currently killing off only 75% of power plays.

This game will be physical and shots are going to be sprayed on net from all angles. Five goals for this game is too low when the scoring talent on both teams is high.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Pete Truszkowski: New York Islanders (+100)

  • Odds available at BetMGM [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

It’s hard to quantify things like momentum, but it’s clear that the New York Islanders are on a roll.

The Isles have controlled 60.7% of the high-danger chances and 55.8% of the expected goals in their nine games this postseason. Philadelphia, on the other hand, has the lowest expected goals rate of any team still left in the tournament.

Philadelphia did have to deal with a Montreal Canadiens team that finished the regular season with the third-best xG%, but the Habs were still the 12th-best team in the East overall, so getting badly outplayed by them should sound the alarm bells for the Flyers.

Philadelphia has received very little production from its best players so far. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny have combined for a grand total of 0 goals. Kevin Hayes has just one goal. Giroux has a 44% expected goals rate while Konecny is even lower at 39%. If the big guys don’t show up, the Flyers are in for big problems.

The Flyers relied heavily on Carter Hart in Round 1 but I’m expecting the goaltenders to wash each other out in this series. Semyon Varlamov has been terrific for the Islanders so far.

The Flyers are the better team so it’s not shocking to see them listed as favorites but I think the Islanders match up very well with Philadelphia. I’ll take the pesky Islanders at plus-money.

[Bet now at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]

Michael Leboff: Dallas Stars (+143)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 9:45 p.m. ET

The Colorado Avalanche hype train hit a speed bump in Game 1 against the Dallas Stars. The Avs closed as -175 favorites at DraftKings for the opener and it seemed like a good sell-high opportunity on a team that was being hailed after dismantling the mediocre-at-best Arizona Coyotes.

Not only did Dallas throw a bit of cold water on Colorado’s parade plans, but the Stars did it in convincing fashion. Dallas created six more high-danger scoring chances than Colorado and the Stars held the high-flying to just 1.52 expected goals at 5-on-5 on the night. It was a deserved win.

One game won’t sway me one way or another in a series, but it was encouraging to see Dallas show the ability to smother Colorado’s attack. If you slow the Avs down through the neutral zone, you’ll have a chance.

The listed price at DraftKings (-165/+143) give the Stars a 39.8% chance of winning when you convert the odds to implied probability. Just like in Game 1, I think Dallas is being sold a little short.

The Stars are one of the best teams in the NHL at turning games into rock fights and that’s all you’re really hoping for at a number like this. I wouldn’t go much lower than this number but I like the upside on the Stars again on Monday night.

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