NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Islanders vs. Flyers (Jan. 18)
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Islanders vs. Flyers Odds
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It will take an utterly ridiculous run from the Isles to sneak their way in to the Eastern conference playoff picture, but the club’s recent 5-1-1 stretch suggests they aren’t entirely ready to pack it in yet. They will look to get two more crucial points here in the second leg of a home-and-home with the lowly Flyers.
Will we see the Islanders able to build on last night’s huge win and keep their faint playoff hopes alive here? Let’s dive into the matchup.
New York Islanders
For a number of reasons, the Islanders’ surprisingly poor follow up to back-to-back Eastern conference finals has been massively frustrating for fans, but it is fair to say they do hold some legitimate excuses.
The Islanders have had a number of notably long pauses to their season, a season opening 13 game road swing, some rough luck with Covid, and altogether tough roster absences. Consequently, it’s fair to say that the roster does have some concerns that may have been exposed regardless however.
The offensive depth is lacking, and it’s hard to play the Islanders’ trademark style under Barry Trotz night in and night out for 82 games by constantly grinding out tough wins without offensive stars to steal undeserved results. This is even tougher with the team out of sync due to things like stoppages to the season, as the Isles have faced.
The club’s lesser offensive play so far is being exposed even more with top defender Ryan Pulock having played just 12 games. Zdeno Chara is also averaging just 18:40 per game, leading to less dominant defensive play compared to normal.
However, it’s fair to argue that what is left on the Islanders still could produce more effective offensive numbers going forward. A more consistent schedule would certainly help, and the Islanders are desperate with the club already essentially skating in do-or-die hockey games.
The season does still hold some roster positives. Young talents in Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom have shown very well. Dobson has been spectacular as the season has rolled along, looking better and better now consistently skating about 22 minutes of ice-time.
Wahlstrom has looked quite strong at times, and although he plays behind Trotz, it does seem fair to say that a 13:23 time on ice average seems pretty harsh for someone with some legitimate scoring upside.
Semyon Varlamov will likely start the second leg of the back-to-back situation here, with a .917 Save % and -0.2 Goals Saved Above Expected rating throughout 10 games this season.
The Flyers saw a losing streak extended to eight games for the second time this season Monday, which shows how dismal things have become for the group.
After another close loss, the Flyers have produced just 10 goals over the last six games. The offense has clearly hit a low point due to down years for some of the young talents such as Travis Konecny. Furthermore, the elite two-way play of top center Sean Couturier has been missing from the lineup since December 18.
His loss doesn’t cover a 1-6-2 stretch of play, but Couturier’s absence clearly leaves a massive hole for this thin Flyers roster, who do not appear due for a significant offensive uptick anytime soon.
Carter Hart should start here for Philly and has been strong this season with a +4.5 Goals Saved Above Expected rating and a .911 Save % throughout
Flyers vs. Islanders Pick
Neither team has been in great form of late, with each skating at an Expected Goals Rate around 43%. But as we have seen consistently with this Isles team under Trotz, they thrive in low scoring tight games, which they have started winning recently.
The Islanders are producing considerably better results where it matters, with a 5-1-1 stretch over their last six, and 105-point pace dating back to November 27th. Over Trotz’s tenure, we have seen that the Islanders do not need to hold a markedly high share of the play to produce wins.
Even still, the Isles controlled play to an Expected Goals Score of 3.53 to 2.02 yesterday, and I think we should see another urgent defensive effort from the Isles. This should keep a lid on Philly’s treacherous offensive play of late yet again.
Altogether, there is enough of an edge to back the Islanders to claim two desperately needed points again from the Flyers here at -125, and I would back the Isles down to -140.
Pick: New York Islanders -125 (Play to -140)
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