Islanders vs. Capitals Odds & Pick: Back New York In Friday’s Game 2
Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Anthony Beauvillier (#18) and Matthew Barzal (#13).
- The Islanders rode a late rally to an impressive comeback win against the Capitals in Game 1.
- Can New York keep the momentum rolling in Game 2 of the series?
- Pete Truszkowski analyze Friday's game for betting value and makes his pick.
Islanders vs. Capitals Odds: Game 2
|Islanders Odds||+110 [BET NOW]|
|Capitals Odds||-127 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5 (-143/+117) [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
Almost two periods into Game 1, the New York Islanders looked dead in the water as they trailed the Washington Capitals by a score of 2-0. The combination of a lack of discipline and questionable officiating had awarded Washington six power-play opportunities in the first two periods, and T.J. Oshie converted twice. The Isles had nothing going offensively, and they couldn’t stay out of the penalty box.
With 1:03 remaining in the period, Jordan Eberle pulled up and floated a wrist shot that Capitals goalie Braden Holtby whiffed on. The Isles went into the break with momentum. Then, less than a minute into the third period, Islanders captain Anders Lee tied it up 2-2. From then on, it was a whole new game and a whole new series as the Isles’ momentum carried them to an impressive 4-2 come from behind win.
Can they ride that momentum into Game 2?
New York Islanders
This series couldn’t have had a more inauspicious start for the Isles.
For most of Game 1, the Isles could not stay out of the box and failed to establish their game even when at full strength. If not for a litany of mistakes by Washington while defending the lead and a poor goaltending performance from Braden Holtby, the Islanders would be trailing in this series.
The Isles’ style is very simple: limit mistakes, limit odd-man rushes against you, make smart plays, and defend. Play as much of the game at 5-on-5 as possible.
During the stretches of Game 1 when New York was at full strength, the Islanders thoroughly dominated. The Isles had 58.7% of shot attempts, 75% of high-danger chances and 65.9% of expected goals. New York similarly dominated the Florida Panthers, but many doubted that level of play would continue against a much tougher opponent in the Capitals.
The Islanders strong play has been led by the trio of Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey. During Game 1 at even strength, the trio was on the ice together for 10 shot attempts while only conceding one. They didn’t allow a shot on goal while on the ice, they didn’t allow a high-danger chance, and their expected goals against was 0.00. Beauvillier and Bailey both scored third period goals to help complete New York’s comeback.
Captain Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle also added goals for the Isles. They make up two-thirds of the team’s top line, centered by Mathew Barzal. The trio was also strong for the Isles, posting over 70% of the shot attempts and 64% of the expected goals.
The Islanders tried to play Adam Pelech against Alex Ovechkin as much as possible. Pelech missed most of the second-half of the season, and his return has made a tremendous impact on the team’s back-end. He is the Isles’ best defensive defenseman, due in large part to his elite stick work. Pelech and his usual partner, Ryan Pulock, kept Ovechkin at near-even in shot attempts and negative in expected goals.
The Isles’ play at 5-on-5 is extremely encouraging and was definitely better than any observer could have realistically expected. But their 5-on-5 numbers won’t matter if they keep racking up the penalties. Expect Barry Trotz to preach discipline to his team ahead of Game 2.
It’s difficult to find a silver lining from Washington’s performance in Game 1.
In fairness, the Capitals’ power play was effective, scoring twice in seven attempts and enabling Washington to jump out to a 2-0 lead. But outside of that, the game had to raise the concern level for the Capitals.
Washington lost its star center, Nicklas Backstrom, very early in the first period after he was blindsided by a hit from Islanders captain Anders Lee. Backstrom went into concussion protocol, missed the remainder of Game 1 and has already been ruled out for Game 2.
Lars Eller has cleared his quarantine and is allowed to return to Washington’s lineup, but he is in no way an adequate replacement for Backstrom. Eller is a solid two-way third line center while Backstrom is one of the best playmakers in the sport. T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana take a big hit as they lose their pivot on the Capitals’ second line.
Washington needs to be careful not to get carried away with emotion and revenge on their mind. Their players and coach have commented on the hit delivered by Lee, and it’s clear they aren’t happy with what happened. The Capitals must avoid putting the Isles on the power play while looking to avenge Backstrom. These teams have a history of chippy playoff series in the past, and you know Barry Trotz will have the Islanders focused on the goal at hand.
Backstrom’s absence notwithstanding, the biggest concern for Washington has to be in net. Braden Holtby has the crease to himself after an injury to Ilya Samsonov. He had a poor regular season, posting a .897 save percentage, and that form has continued over into the postseason.
Holtby single-handedly gave the Islanders life by fanning on Eberle’s soft shot right before the second intermission. A turnover and miscommunication with his defense led to Josh Bailey’s short-handed goal, which ended up being the game winner. Those two mistakes by Holtby were the difference in the game.
Frankly, if this game wasn’t so tightly officiated — or if the Islanders displayed an ounce of discipline — then the Capitals might have never been in the game to begin with. New York is not a good enough team to dominate on 5-on-5 the way it did. During the regular season, the Isles were a bottom-five team in shot attempts and ranked 20th in expected goals. You would have never known based on how they handled the Capitals.
Ovechkin is yet to score in four games since the season restarted. Backstrom will miss Game 2. Holtby has been brutal between the pipes. John Carlson just returned from injury and looked rusty in Game 1. The Capitals were dominated at even-strength. And after the Islanders punched back to tie the game, Washington didn’t punch back. They cowered.
To top it all off, the Capitals seem overly focused on the hit by Anders Lee and not focused enough on improving their poor performance.
The Islanders have a way of turning every game they play into a coin flip. Their defense-first, responsible, disciplined style keeps games low-scoring, which increases the variance of the result. This means any time you see the Isles as underdogs, it’s a tempting bet.
The line has moved a little since Game 1. The Capitals closed at -134 for Game 1, and they are currently priced at -125 at DraftKings for Friday’s rematch. Based on what we witnessed last game, as well as the injury to Nicklas Backstrom, I think the line movement isn’t that much of an overreaction.
The loss of Backstrom eliminates the advantage of having one of the best 1-2 center duos in the sport with Evgeny Kuznetsov. Now, the second line has a gaping hole that can’t be effectively replaced.
I think the Islanders price at +110 is accurate. This line implies the Islanders have a 47.6% chance of winning the game. In reality, it’s probably closer to 50-50, but it’s not an edge you should be running to take advantage of.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for action, take the Islanders at plus money. If money starts coming in on the Capitals, I would happily play the Isles if they get to +115 or better.
Pick: Islanders (+115 or better)