Wednesday NHL Odds, Picks & Predictions: Islanders vs. Flyers Betting Preview for Game 2 (August 26)
Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Semyon Varlamov and Andy Greene.
Islanders vs. Flyers Odds
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|Islanders Odds||-103 [BET NOW]|
|Flyers Odds||-115 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5 (+102/-122) [BET NOW]|
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
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Evaluating Teams in The Bubble
At some point during these playoffs, recent form will matter more than the numbers a team put up during the regular season. Under normal circumstances, I typically wait about 20 games into a new season before I consider changing my tune about a team.
For most of these Dystopian Playoffs, I’ve been leaning heavily on regular season numbers and kind of filling in the blanks with how a team has looked in The Bubble. The way a team played during the 70-game season tells you the type of system a team plays, what its strengths are and what types of matchups could be problematic.
Additionally, in the playoffs you’re playing the same team over and over again. The results you put up against a team like the St. Louis Blues may mean bubkis against the Vegas Golden Knights.
In general, most teams’ regular-season identities have carried over to The Bubble. The numbers may be skewed a bit, but for the most part we are getting the similar versions of the teams we saw during the regular season. The Knights are a play-driving machine; the Lightning are good at both ends of the ice; the Bruins are winning low-event hockey games; and the Stars, well, the Stars are really weird.
New York Islanders
Then there’s the New York Islanders. As expected, the Islanders are playing a sound defensive game in The Bubble. Barry Trotz Hockey. However, what is unexpected — and deserves some deeper thought — is just how well New York has been executing during the tournament.
Not only are the Islanders 8-2 in the playoffs, but they are taking it to their opponents. The Isles made quick work of the Panthers, dominated the Capitals and they’re now off and running against the Flyers, who have scored just 11 goals in their last seven games.
This isn’t a mirage, either. Trotz’s Islanders sometimes get painted as a mediocre team that gets bailed out by great goaltending. That’s been true to some extent over the past two seasons, but that isn’t what’s happening here. The goalkeeping has been splendid, but the entire team is pushing play in the right direction.
The Islanders are surrendering just 0.77 goals on 1.8 expected goals per hour at 5-on-5. The Isles aren’t blowing anybody away offensively, but they’re still creating plenty of high-danger scoring chances (11.92 per hour) and allowing very few (7.95).
Ten games is still a small sample size, but New York is a peculiar case, so it may mean more for them than it would to other teams. That’s because we are actually seeing this team’s full capabilities for the first time.
After a soaring start to the season, the Islanders tumbled in the second half. Injuries played a large role in that collapse. But the Isles also had a couple of gaping holes in their roster that needed to be filled.
The Islanders lost top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech in December and fourth-line center Casey Cizikas soon thereafter. Pelech and Cizikas may not be household names, but they are vital to Barry Trotz’s system. Pelech often plays against the opposition’s best forwards, and Cizikas is Trotz’s most trustworthy defensive center.
Cizikas’ injury also exacerbated the Islanders’ biggest bugaboo all season: Trotz didn’t have a consistent third-line center. That issue was ameliorated when the Isles acquired Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline.
In fact, this is the first time we’re really seeing the Islanders with every instrument of the Barry Trotz Philharmonic. Pageau has been a perfect fit as the 3C, and New York’s other deadline acquisition, Andy Greene, has been rock-solid on the third pair.
The Islanders’ regular season was just a tick above mediocre. But this is a different team than the one we saw. Not only have they gotten healthy, but they’ve also brought in reinforcements. The Playoff Islanders are probably a better representation of how this team will perform going forward than its regular season performance may suggest — although I wouldn’t expect them to continue winning eight out of 10 games throughout the playoffs.
That finally brings us to Game 2 against the Flyers: A team that, when all is going well, doesn’t look that far off the Islanders; a deep-but-not-spectacular group that pulls in the same direction.
But, the Flyers look a bit lost right now.
Philadelphia was badly outplayed by Montreal at 5-on-5 in Round 1, and the Flyers looked stumped against the Islanders in the opener. Philadelphia made a decent push in the second period, but the Islanders were able weather the storm by keeping Philadelphia out of the danger areas for the most part. The Flyers will need to find their scoring touch against one of the league’s stingiest teams.
I don’t think the Flyers are this bad; in fact I still think Philadelphia deserves to be favored on a game-to-game basis. But, I was also skeptical that the Flyers were ever as good as they were made out to be at the start of Round 1. A hot-streak to end the season, followed up by a 3-0 stretch in the round robin, ballooned the price on a good-but-not-great team.
Betting Analysis & Pick
These two teams are not that far off from one another. The Islanders are playing better right now, but the Flyers are the better team overall. Now, if I had to lay some serious wood on the Islanders, this would be a no-brainer. But they aren’t -130 in this matchup; they are the underdogs (check here for updated NHL odds so you can shop for the best number).
So, while you are buying high, you’re not taking a huge risk here. I’d bet the Islanders up to -110 for Game 2.
Pick: Islanders -110