NHL Islanders vs. Panthers Odds, Preview, Prediction: Pick This Player to Score (October 23)
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Lundell of the Florida Panthers
Islanders vs. Panthers Odds
|Time||5 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
After a tight bout on opening night, the New York Islanders look to get revenge on the Florida Panthers. Since their opening night loss, the Isles have been inconsistent. They looked great against San Jose and Anaheim, but struggled against New Jersey and Tampa.
Florida has looked great since game one. They took one loss to Boston, and just fell to Tampa in overtime, but pulled through against Philly and Buffalo. They currently stand at 3-1-1, second place in the Atlantic Division behind Boston.
Who will take game two between these two squads?
New York Islanders
After striking out on a few of the league’s top free agents, Lou Lamoriello and Co. have decided to run it back one more year with the same Islander roster.
The only new addition was defenseman Alex Romanov who has paired well with blue chipper Noah Dobson, who currently stands second in team scoring. Oliver Wahlstrom is also thriving with three goals while Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson have all generated solid production.
Since the Islanders went a new route by hiring coach Lane Lambert, the team is looking insurmountably different than years past.
With a higher tempo, the Isles play at a 45.37 xGF% (expected goals), and have averaged around 12 high danger chances per game. Of course with more offense, the defense has taken a hit allowing a 3.37 xGA/60, even though goaltending has been a strength for them.
Over the past few years the Isles have not been a great team on the power play, and the start of this season has been no different. They convert at only an 6.7% pace, while the penalty kill has been dynamite, at 100%.
Since Ilya Sorokin got the start in Tampa, expect his partner Semyon Varlamov to take the crease in this bout. Varlamov can still be a #1 netminder, but is faring well as a 1B option. The Russian has only started in one game this season, but fared well – stopping 26 out of 28 shots, and playing to a +0.6 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected).
Florida is a team that has experienced turnaround, and dealing with a key injury in Anthony Duclair. Not only that, but they lost their #1 defenseman Aaron Ekblad for a few weeks. However, it doesn’t seem as if it has slowed them down. The addition of Matthew Tkachuk is paying immediate dividends, with 6 points in his first 4 games with the team. Colin White has been a pleasant surprise so far, averaging a point per game, as well as a less surprising Aleksander Barkov who is always a consistent producer. Sam Reinhart was a big contributor last year but only has one assist, so I expect him to get going soon.
At even strength, it’s no surprise that the Panthers are among the better teams. They have an 11th ranked 52.91 xGF% but what’s more surprising is they don’t generate as many high danger chances. The power play hasn’t boded well either, only scoring at an 8.7% pace. The loss of Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar may have something to do with that, but Florida is making due.
They’ve been exceptional at shutting down teams though with a 2.27 xGA/60, and having two solid goaltenders is always a big help. Not only that but the penalty kill has held up fairly well, shutting down opponents at an 82.6% rate.
Sergei Bobrovsky has taken the brunt of the work so far, including his win in the Battle of Florida against Tampa. This is a game I wouldn’t be surprised Spencer Knight gets the nod here. In his only game this season, Knight stopped 24 out of 27 shots, and is playing at a -1.1 GSAx. I truly think it would be in Florida’s best interest to rest Bobrovsky here. You don’t want to overwork your netminder, and there’s a reason why the Panthers are paying Knight $4.5M after only 31 starts.
Islanders vs. Panthers Pick
New York is hitting the road for the first time, and their first test is a back to back in Florida. They’re an interesting team this year as they’re starting to get a handle on playing at a faster pace, so their goal totals have been fluctuating – as well as their goals against totals. The Florida gauntlet is never an easy one so I can certainly see them coming out a bit slow. Not only that, but the Islanders have shown to struggle against really good teams – with their only wins against lottery-bound teams.
Each of Florida’s games have been fairly high scoring on both ends. Not only that but the loss of Aaron Ekblad significantly hurts this team moving forward defensively. This team may be a bit different, but they can still make you pay. Think this could also be the perfect game for Sam Reinhart to take advantage of New York’s tired legs and get back on the score sheet.
Pick: Florida Panthers 3-Way (-120) | Sam Reinhart to record a goal (+1200)