NHL Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions: Islanders vs. Flyers Game 1 Preview (Monday, August 24)
Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Bailey, Anders Lee
Game 1: Islanders vs. Flyers Odds
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|Islanders Odds||-106 [BET NOW]|
|Flyers Odds||-110 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5 (+100/-120) [BET NOW]|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders had very different victories in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flyers were pretty fortunate to escape their best-of-seven series with the Canadiens, while the Islanders took the Capitals to school in a 4-1 shellacking.
It’s really wild what a hot stretch can do to how a team is perceived in the betting market.
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The Flyers were the hottest team in the NHL before the break and after a 3-0 performance in the round robin, it looked like Philadelphia was going to pick up right where it left off. Naturally, the market was really high on the Flyers before their series with Montreal and they were even made the Stanley Cup Favorites at DraftKings before the puck dropped on Round 1.
The Islanders were the coldest team in the NHL prior to the hiatus, so the market was pretty skeptical that the Isles would be able to make a run in the postseason. The Isles were considered longshots to win the Stanley Cup and there weren’t too many people out there picking New York as a potential sleeper.
We’re living in a different world now.
New York Islanders
It’s hard to ignore how well the Islanders have played in The Bubble. New York is 7-2 with a +15 goal differential (+12 at 5-on-5) and a 55.8% expected goals rate. Florida and Washington were flawed teams, but it’s not like the Islanders were expected to blow them out. The Isles were short favorites over the Panthers and were between +120 and +150 in their best-of-seven against the Caps.
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.
New York’s defense has been lights out in the tournament, allowing a league-leading 0.87 goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 through the first nine games. The Isles are getting terrific goaltending from Semyon Varlamov but their defense is making life easy on the Russian netminder.
The Islanders have allowed just 1.71 expected goals against and 7.72 high-danger scoring chances per hour at 5-on-5.
The Isles are dominating games thanks to their suffocating defense, but they’re also putting up solid offensive numbers thanks to their score-by-committee approach. Seven players on the Islanders have registered at least five points in the playoffs and six of them have scored three or more goals.
The second line has been particularly noticeable. Anthony Beauvillier has six goals, Josh Bailey has 10 points and Brock Nelson has chipped in three goals and four assists.
Under Barry Trotz the Islanders have been painted as a hardworking bunch that punches above its weight thanks to good defense, great goaltending and a team-first attitude. While all those things are true, it underrates the collection of talent on this roster.
The Islanders may be lacking when it comes to game-breaking talent, but they are a deep group on both ends of the ice — no elite players but plenty of good ones. Don’t forget that this team put together a 17-game point streak early in the regular season.
When the Isles are healthy, they are tough to beat.
The Philadelphia Flyers will not last much longer in this tournament if they play the way they did against the Canadiens. The Flyers scored only 11 goals (and just seven at 5-on-5) in the six-game series and somehow lived to tell the tale.
Philadelphia’s toothless offense was just part of the problem, though, as its underlying metrics were truly awful. The Flyers controlled just 42% of the shot attempts, 39.7% of the expected goals and 34.1% of the high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 in their best-of-seven against Montreal.
The Habs are a strong 5-on-5 team but those numbers really make you wonder how Philadelphia is still hanging around this tournament.
It’s reasonable to expect Philadelphia to bounce back, at least to some degree, in Round 2. The Flyers are not a 40% expected goals team and their offense figures to wake up at some point.
Their regular season numbers were much, much better than that.
|Goals For Per 60 Minutes||2.78||6th|
|Goals Against Per 60 Minutes||2.41||10th|
|Expected Goals For Per 60 Minutes||2.25||19th|
|Expected Goals Against Per 60 Minutes||2.18||11th|
|Shot Attempts For Per 60 Minutes||54.12||20th|
|Shot Attempts Allowed Per 60 Minutes||51.9||7th|
|High-Danger Chances For Per 60 Minutes||10.62||15th|
|High-Danger Chances Against Per 60 Minutes||10.19||13th|
It’s hard to ignore that these two teams are trending in complete opposite directions, but this is a brand new series and should be treated as such. Ask yourself: Where would the odds for this game be if this matchup took place 10 days ago?
The answer to that question is probably closer to the -135/+115 range. Instead, we’re looking at a virtual coin flip with the Islanders hanging between +100 and -110 for Game 1.
An interesting wrinkle in this series is that the market typically moved against the Islanders over the regular season. The Isles’ defensive style was hard for models and bettors to quantify, so they often looked overpriced. That narrative has changed a bit as the Isles were attracting plenty of support as the series against the Capitals went on and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
If you want to bet on the Islanders because of their stellar form, I get it. But it’s hard to pass on Philadelphia at this number. I’d back the Flyers at -115 or better for Game 1.