Today's Free Picks for
Series wager posted before May 29, before Game 1
8:08 PM EST. NY Islanders +215 over Boston
The Bruins beat the Caps in five games after losing Game 1 and once again, that’s all the market sees. The market reacts to results, which is great because it keeps providing us with opportunities like this. What the market doesn’t see is that Boston could have been swept in four games by a Washington squad that was banged up, played their No. 3 goaltender for the first half of the series and were without one of their best centers for half the contest as well. That’s right folks, Boston could have lost four straight, as they lost Game 1 and Games 2, 3 & 4 went into OT. One bounce in each game and we’d be talking about a pick-em series between the Isles and Caps.
A team can only beat the team in front of it, but there’s no denying the B’s had a light run into the tournament with eight of their last 17 games coming against the Devils and Sabres and then they just beat the easiest Round 1 opponent in this year’s playoffs.
The narrative coming out of the Islanders' victory over the Penguins is that New York was gifted the series by Penguins goaltender Jarry, who skated to a -6.72 GSAx in the series. While it’s true that even bad-not-terrible goaltending from Jarry would have made that series a different story, part of the Islanders’ identity is to win the goaltending battle. It’s definitely not out of the question that Ilya Sorokin can out-perform Tuukka Rask over the next two weeks Overall, the Islanders outscored the Penguins, 18-12, at 5-on-5 but lost the expected goals battle, 13.46 to 11.22. Those numbers provide further evidence that goaltending was the difference, but to say the Penguins dominated the entire series but for the goaltending is a bit of a stretch but it’s also one the market is buying and embracing.
With a strong will and plenty of well-drilled, defensively-responsible forwards, the Islanders are not an easy puzzle for any team to figure out. Just expecting Boston’s top six to dominate from puck drop to the final whistle underrates one of the Islanders biggest strengths. Furthermore, we’d take the Islanders bottom six of Boston’s bottom six forwards 100% of the time.
Let’s put all the fodder aside and focus on the price, which often dictates the play. In a best-of-seven series in a sport as luck-driven as hockey game outcomes are, there is an argument to be made that a team’s statistical profile becomes less important.
The Islanders are getting no credit yet time and time again, they have found a way to come up big when the going gets tough under head coach Barry Trotz. Since Trotz left Washington, the Caps have not won a single playoff series while the Isles have now won four of their six best-of-seven series under Trotz. Coincidence? We think not. It’s no secret that the market, media and fans have a tough time figuring out how the Islanders achieve success, but that doesn’t mean their achievements should just be chalked up to witchcraft.
The Bruins deserve to be favored here but we have to trust that the Islanders have a better than 34% chance of winning the series and better than a 38% chance to win individual games in Boston. We’ll therefore start off with a bet on the Islanders to win Game 1 and to win the Series at incredibly inflated prices.
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N.Y. Islanders +219 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 4.38)