NHL betting: Is it the Islanders' time to shine?

·1-min read

The New York Islanders are an acquired taste, a slow burn, a subtle team. They beat opponents with sound defensive play and worker-bee offense. No one scored 20 goals for New York this year. Mathew Barzal is a highlight waiting to happen, but he’s the outlier — this is not a flashy group.

Contrast this to the Penguins, who have star power for days. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin already have Hall of Fame tickets punched, and Kris Letang will make for an interesting discussion someday. Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust have turned into reliable scoring forwards.

So often in handicapping (and in fantasy sports, for that matter), the right thing to do is the unsexy thing. Betting the Penguins is fun. Betting the Islanders is like eating your vegetables. But given that I view these teams as close to even, laying a modest -115 on the Islanders at home Thursday night in Game 3 feels like good value.

Both teams had a similar cash flow profile in season; they were ATMs at home, and losing bets on the road (to be fair, Pittsburgh took a mild loss on the road, per $100 wagered; the Islanders were much deeper in the red). The Islanders are stronger in goal and on the back end, and the team that makes the fewest mistakes will probably get the money Thursday night. Oh, I won’t complain if Barzal gives us one highlight clip, but tonight’s a night we eat our vegetables. Steamed broccoli, please.

Pick: Islanders -115, (1 unit)