NHL Odds & Pick for Bruins vs. Islanders: Defenses Should Steal Spotlight in New York (Saturday, Feb. 13)
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Bruins vs. Islanders Odds
|Day | Time||Saturday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.|
The New York Islanders enter Saturday’s game on a five-game point streak. That’s cute.
The Boston Bruins have a 10-game point streak of their own. The last time the Bruins didn’t get at least a point? That came on Jan. 18 in a 1-0 loss. The opponent? You guessed it — the Islanders.
Two of the league’s better defensive teams will go at it Saturday at the Nassau Coliseum. So, what can we expect in this latest meeting?
The Boston Bruins are the Boston Bruins. Anyone that’s followed hockey over the past decade knows what that means. They’re one of the league’s better teams, and their bread and butter is an ability to keep the puck out of their net.
The Bruins are playing the second half of a back-to-back set, as they defeated the Rangers on Friday by a 1-0 score. Jaroslav Halak started Friday, but despite the shutout, it’s almost certain Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes in this game for Boston.
Rask has been solid to begin the season, posting a +0.55 goals saved above expectation. Solid is good enough behind this Bruins defense.
No team is giving up less goals than Boston, which is conceding just two goals per game on average. This matches up with the underlying metrics, as its expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 is just 1.71, good enough for the NHL’s second-best mark. The Bruins are also top five in terms of limiting high danger chances and scoring chances.
Despite their impressive record, Boston’s offense is nothing to write home about. It ranks below league average in both goals per game and expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. That said, the Bruins top line, featuring Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron, is among the most feared in the league.
New York Islanders
Like the Bruins, the Islanders have their own identity they’ve established over the last two-plus years under Barry Trotz. They’re also a team that prefers to win games by keeping them low scoring and in control.
While not as dominant as Boston defensively, the Islanders find themselves in the top five when it comes to goals against per game. Teams are scoring just 2.5 goals per night against New York. The Islanders’ expected goals against per 60 minutes isn’t as impressive, but it’s still within the top half of the league.
Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock will be the duo tasked with shutting down the Bergeron line. Maybe the most underrated top defensive pairing in hockey, the pair has posted nearly a 57 percent expected-goal rate at 5-on-5 through over 160 minutes together.
The Islanders have also received solid goaltending from Semyon Varlamov to start the season. Varlamov has a +5.59 goals saved above average, plus his goals against average is under two. He’s also stopping nearly 93% of the shots he faces. Varlamov was exceptional for New York in the postseason last year, and he’s carried that form over to begin this year.
The Islanders rely on their defense so heavily because their offense is pitiful. They are fourth from the bottom in terms of goals per game and their expected goals scored rank bottom 10 overall.
Lately, the contributions have come in two forms, the first being Mat Barzal or the fourth line. New York needs more from its middle-six options like Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson. Both players have just two even strength points on the season. Anthony Beauvillier has a chance of returning from injury in this game, so that might give the second line a boost. They need it.
Betting Analysis & Pick
When I think of the Bruins, I think of a team that tries to win every game by a 2-1 scoreline. Their offense doesn’t scare many, but you know you’ll need to scratch and claw for every inch of ice against them. Getting quality chances against them is hard, and when you do, Rask is usually standing in your way.
The Islanders are like a knockoff version of the Bruins, just not quite as good defensively and they don’t have as much faith in their goaltending. Offensively, they’re even worse than the mediocre Bruins.
That said, I think we’re in for a defensive battle. I mentioned these teams met earlier in the season, with the Islanders picking up a 1-0 win. New York broke a scoreless tie with just over four minutes left in the game to secure the victory.
I would say things have changed since that early matchup, but the Bruins are coming off Friday’s 1-0 win. The Islanders’ last win earlier in the week was by a score of 2-0 margin.
When these teams are on their game, this is the style they want to play. For that reason, the under is my favorite play in this showdown.
Pick: Total Under 5.5 Goals