NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Islanders vs. Flames
Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom
- The Flames host the Islanders, a team they have dominated of late, on Friday night.
- Calgary has been solid at home, but New York is also strong on the road, so this should be an intriguing matchup.
- Tony Sartori previews the game and offers up his best bet below.
Islanders vs. Flames Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Pacific Division’s Calgary Flames host the Metropolitan Division’s New York Islanders in what should be an intriguing Friday evening matchup. Calgary has won by two or more goals in four of the past five meetings between these clubs.
Will the Flames continue their dominance in this matchup, or can the Islanders get revenge on the road?
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are on the second half of a road back-to-back. Since star goaltender Ilya Sorokin started Thursday’s game, backup netminder Semyon Varlamov is likely to get the nod against the Flames.
While Varlamov is typically an excellent backup, he hasn’t made a start since December 17 due to a lower body injury. That extended absence could lead to some rust for the veteran netminder against a hungry Calgary team that he has notoriously struggled against, especially over the past couple seasons.
Across his past three starts against the Flames, Varlamov is 0-3 with a troubling .840 save percentage (SV%) and 4.48 goals against average (GAA). In front of Varlamov is a fade-worthy defense that is typically bailed out by goaltending.
At 5-on-5, New York ranks just 21st in the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60). To make matters worse, its best defensive defenseman — Adam Pelech — still isn’t traveling with the team due to his concussion.
The offense is hardly any better. The Islanders rank 20th in the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) at 5-on-5.
The Calgary Flames have not played since Tuesday and enter this contest with far more rest. After an underwhelming start to the season, the Flames are starting to turn things around, having won five of their past eight games, a trend that should continue in this matchup.
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who is having an uncharacteristically poor season, is projected to start between the pipes. He is starting to turn his play around over the past couple of weeks and that trend could continue as he’ll be facing a team he has previously fared well against.
Over his past four starts against the Islanders, Markstrom is 3-0-1 with a .913 SV% and 2.70 GAA. In front of the Flames’ netminder is a strong blue line, which is no surprise under head coach Darryl Sutter.
At 5-on-5, Calgary ranks eighth in the league in xGA/60. Meanwhile, the offense is finally starting to find its rhythm after a slow start to the season. The Flames rank ninth in the league in xGF/60 at 5-on-5.
Islanders vs. Flames Pick
Typically, I try to avoid taking the puckline for a home favorite as there is a tad too much bias baked into the line to make it valuable. However, in this contest, -1.5 at plus-money is too good to pass up.
At 5-on-5, the Flames rank much higher than the Islanders in both xGF/60 and xGA/60. Meanwhile, Calgary has the benefit of avoiding Sorokin as New York is on the second half of a back-to-back.
While Varlamov is no sieve, the Flames entering this matchup on two days rest is going to be a problem for a vulnerable Islanders group on zero days rest.
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