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For Islanders, playing defensive brand of hockey is tougher against elite offensive team

By Andy MacNeil  ( 

September 8, 2020 11:45 PM

Bettors are well aware that the New York Islanders are a team that prides itself on playing from the goaltender out, and that their defense-first mindset comes from their head coach, Barry Trotz. Only eight teams managed to concede fewer goals than the Islanders in 2019-20. What bettors might not realize, however, is that the Islanders have had a tougher time playing their brand of hockey when they face off against teams that tend to score in bunches.

During the regular season, there were 29 instances where the Islanders matched up against a team that graded out as a top-10 team in terms of scoring efficiency and we saw the combined number of goals scored reach 6, approximately 59 percent of the time. This suggests, and I believe this to be the case, that it’s going to be really tough for the Islanders to play their brand of hockey against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning are the top offensive team, scoring roughly 3.5 goals per game during the regular season, and they actually grade out slightly better than the Islanders do on the other side of the puck, as they allowed fewer goals per 60 minutes than the Isles. The Lightning don’t bend to the will of their opponents, there is just too much skill in their lineup. Teams, like the Islanders, must try their best to play Lightning hockey. 

With the total set at 5.5 and shaded heavily to the under at -130, bettors might consider laying the chalk. However, -130 implies that the game will stay under 5.5 goals roughly 56.5 percent of the time, and that’s a little bit too much certainty in my opinion. By my estimation, these two teams should combine to score about six goals on average, and go over the total ~52.5 percent of the time. In other words, the total of 5.5 goals should be shaded to the over, or at least, resemble a coin flip. 

Bet accordingly, but bet responsibly.

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