Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12, 100 points) @ New York Islanders (48-27-7, 103 points)
April 10, 2019, 7:30 PM EST (Nassau Coliseum)
Moneyline: Pittsburgh Penguins -105/ New York Islanders -115
Puckline: New York Islanders -1.5
ESPN NHL Scores: New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Heading into the playoffs, it’s fair hope your team doesn’t limp in. For the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 2-3 record in their last five games, including losses to the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, doesn’t bode well. How quickly can the Penguins flip the switch on “playoff hockey”.
Hockey on the Island has been, unpredictably, successful. The New York Islander relied on defense and goaltending, but will the regular season strategy transition into playoff hockey?
Every season the Pittsburgh Penguins should be a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The narrative that is built is that they are getting older, they are tired from so many lengthy playoff runs, and other teams around them are getting better.
I think the transition the NHL is going through is that the Penguins aren’t the team to beat anymore, but they should still be feared.
Pittsburgh is a great 5-on-5 team and are capable of jumping on teams and running away with a game. While some great PDO teams rely mainly on their goaltending (see New York Islanders), the Penguins can point to a nice balance of offense and defense.
However, the Penguin may have a weakness that doesn’t bode well for the playoffs. A team that does well in close games, can find a way to beat the Islanders. The Penguins own the 22nd ranked oiSH% (6.8%) when games are close.
If the Penguins can’t find a way to score (against the best defensive team in the league), the Islanders could actually run away with this.
New York Islanders
Everyone and their mother is talking about the problems the Islanders could have if their defense and goaltending dips a little. The Islanders are the second best over PDO team (101.9 and 92.5 oiSV%) and best Even Strength PDO team (102.4 and 93.1 oiSV%)
The analysis should then revolve around their offense and where it could come from.
The Islanders own the third worst power play in the NHL and worst power play of the Eastern Conference Playoff teams. At ten goals, Anders Lee leads the team in power play goals. A year ago, Lee was good for four more power play goals and six percentage points better in shooting percentage.
But going back to his last playoff performance (at only 24) he had one point in five games.
Lee is just one name that needs to find the back of the net more often. But such a low shooting percentage on the power play suggests the plays aren’t there, opposed to the talent. The good news for the Islanders, is you can be more aggressive and change strategy.
Will they want to sacrifice a little defense to find a little offense?
Cover the Spread 365 NHL Betting Trends
Pittsburgh is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Pittsburgh’s last 5 games
Pittsburgh is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
New York Islanders
NY Islanders is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Islanders are 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 11 of NY Islanders’ last 14 games
Free NHL Predictions: Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders
There is an easy way to bet on this game. And that’s asking yourself if you think Pittsburgh, a team who has struggled in the last five and over the entire season, can overcome a team primarily focused on defense.
To answer that question doesn’t necessarily mean the Penguins will lose, but can they keep these games close? I think the answer is definitely ‘yes’. Being given 1.5 on this game makes the Penguins the easy pick.