You can throw out anything and everything that happened between two teams in the regular season when the playoffs roll around. That’s the cliche that’s heard a lot in sports, but for the most part, it also tends to be true. The assumption here is that the same goes for what figures to be an intense opening round series between the Islanders and Penguins.
Let’s take a look at Game 1 of this first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup from a betting perspective in our Islanders vs. Penguins betting preview with odds, picks, and predictions.
In that vein, the Penguins’ 6-2-0 record against the Islanders in the regular season shouldn’t be taken as an indicator that they have somehow figured out the defensive-minded Islanders. Similarly, the fact that the Islanders were a middling 10-9-3, including a pair of losses to the Penguins, over their final 22 games of the regular season doesn’t mean a deep playoff push is out of the question.
There is another level come playoff time, and both these teams know how to reach it. Pittsburgh is a veteran team with a bevy of Stanley Cup winners doting the roster. The Islanders got a good taste last year and are hungry for more, led by one of the best coaches in the game in Barry Trotz. This promises to be a good, tough, long series.
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Islanders vs. Penguins Betting Pick
Both of these teams look a little bit different than the last time they played each other back in late March.
The Penguins got a slew of players back from injury, most notably Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen, and they added Jeff Carter at the trade deadline. Carter scored nine goals in 14 games since the trade, including four in one game.
Meanwhile, the Islanders added three players at the deadline, veteran forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the Devils and veteran depth defenseman Braydon Coburn from Ottawa. None were really productive down the stretch for New York, but all three provide the kind of veteran know-how needed for the postseason.
These two teams met in the first round two seasons ago when the Islanders swept the Penguins. We don’t see a similar outcome this time around. However, it’s worth noting that when a high-powered offense plays a stingy defense, if the stingy defense can get the lead, they can often smother the offense.
Certainly, that will be the Islanders’ goal here. They were 23-2-2 when scoring first and 9-15-5 when giving up the first goal.
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Islanders vs. Penguins Odds
Here are the the Islanders vs. Penguins Game 1 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook:
|Penguins||+1.5 (-286)||-105||O 5.5 (+115)|
|Islanders||-1.5 (+230)||-110||U 5.5 (-139)|
Penguins Bets We Like With a Pittsburgh Win
Sidney Crosby OVER 0.5 power play points (+200, FanDuel)
One of the funny matchups between these clubs is on special teams. The Penguins had the fourth-best power play in the league while the Islanders had the sixth-best penalty kill, which gives us a strength-on-strength showdown. On the other hand, the Islanders power play ranks 21st and the Penguins penalty kill ranks 27th, so there is also a weakness-on-weakness in play.
Still, there may not be many power-play chances for either team as these are two of the least penalized teams in the league.
So why do we like Crosby to get power-play points?
Because when those opportunities arise in games in this series, they are going to be like gold. Crosby is the kind of guy who recognizes that and is likely to take advantage of it. Beating the Islanders at 5-on-5 is incredibly difficult because of their structured consistency, so you have to beat them in other ways. Getting one on the power play would be a way to do it. And if anyone will be it the middle of that for the Penguins, it’ll be Crosby. Plus, there’s outstanding value.
Islanders Bets We Like With a New York Win
Islanders to win AND UNDER 5.5 goals (+250, DraftKings)
Here’s the thing. Pittsburgh was playing great hockey down the stretch. The Islanders, not so much. But with both teams off for a week coming into Game 1, we assume that momentum has been halted. It’s a start from scratch after a week off.
With that in mind, give New York coach Barry Trotz that much time to prepare for a playoff opponent, and it’s a sure bet that it’s going to be tough sledding in Game 1.
Yes, the Penguins were one of the best home teams during the regular season, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to postseason success. Both of these teams were great at home, and there’s a good chance that both will lose at least one home game in this series.
Then we look at Semyon Varlamov, who along with his backup Ilya Sorokin finished second in the NHL for the Jennings Trophy for best goaltending tandem in the league. Tristan Jarry, who will get the start for Pittsburgh despite sustaining an upper body injury at the end of the season, is no slouch either and has been playing strong in goal.
Look for the Penguins to be a little slower on the pedal because of the Islanders’ style. For the Islanders to win, expect New York to secure an early lead, and then, like a python, slowly squeeze the life out of a great Penguins offense.
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Bets We Like Independent of Outcome
UNDER 5.5 goals (-143, DraftKings)
We saw it A LOT last season in the playoffs between Eastern Conference teams, especially in games involving the Islanders – there’s just not a lot of scoring. It’s why we attached the over/under to our Islanders parlay bet above. Until the trend turns around and these Eastern Conference teams open it up in the playoffs (Game 1 between Boston and Washington was five goals total), then you have to ride the under as much as you can to victory.
Islanders vs. Penguins Prediction
We kind of let the cat out of the bag early. We think the Islanders are a great play today. We will go with a low-scoring, grind-it-out win for the visitors in the opener.
Pick: Islanders 3, Penguins 2
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