With the NHL returning on August 1, the action is starting to pick up on gambling sites around the world. Lines are going up on who is going to win, in how many games, and so forth. Sports Interaction has added some juice to the gambling component. Along with the series prices and props, all eight series’ have top point scorer bets as well as head-to-head matchups with a wager of “who will score more points in the series? Player A or player B.”We here at Last Word on Hockey will be looking at all eight qualifying round matchups from a gambling perspective. Today we will be looking at the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders qualifying round series and where you can make your money.
Qualifying Round Matchup: Florida Panthers v. New York Islanders
In a pick-em’ series, the old cliché “defence wins championships” is in full force here with New York being defensive-oriented and the high-flying Florida Panthers on the other side of the spectrum. I’m actually flipping that logic given the wacky circumstances.
Teams often need some time to find their defensive mould when the regular season kicks off, and I’m guessing the same could happen here, favouring Florida. Don’t forget New York was on a seven-game slump before the season stopped, albeit slightly worse than Florida dropping 12 of their past 18. This is undeniably a pick’em, but I’m taking Florida in five.
Top Point Scorer
Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau is the favourite at +250, followed by teammate Alexsander Barkov who’s at +300 odds. Both have little playoff experience, with each posting three points in six career games. New York’s top candidate is Mathew Barzal at +425 odds, who had a strong playoff showing last year with seven points in eight games.
Evgenii Dadonov +1000
Despite Evgenii Dadonov‘s production slightly dropping in 2019–20, he remains a hidden talent in Florida. Dadonov’s never played a postseason game in the NHL but the first-line right-winger has recorded six goals and three assists in nine games against the Islanders.
Keith Yandle +1200
Keith Yandle racks up assists, reaching 40 or more in his last seven seasons. The same goes for when Yandle suits up against the Islanders: he’s got 18 in 22 career games and has another 25 in 51 career playoff games. The offensive defenceman is worth a shot.
Derick Brassard +2000
I’ll be the first to admit that Derick Brassard might be a reach for a smart money pick. But Brassard’s got solid numbers against Florida with nine goals and five assists in 25 games. Brassard also easily leads all players in this series in playoff points, so there’s that.
Not So Fast
Jonathan Huberdeau +250
At +250, Huberdeau isn’t worth the juice. That’s not to say he won’t lit the Islanders on fire, but New York is a sound defensive team and Huberdeau’s numbers prove this with just 13 points in 20 games. And as mentioned, he’s just got three points in six playoff games.
Anders Lee +1200
Skating on the Isles’ first line, Anders Lee might seem like a tempting value pick. Problem is, Lee’s career production dips both against the Panthers and in the playoffs where he’s scored once in 13 showings.
Alexsander Barkov +300
Barkov is another high-scoring option whose odds are beyond reason. He’s done fine against the Islanders with 15 points in 17 games, but the star centreman lacks playoff experience and could take more time to adjust — especially in this year’s environment.
With so little playoff experience between these two clubs, it’s tough to lean on any of the young superstars. Barkov is a safe choice, but again the odds aren’t so tempting at -150. Instead, look back to Yandle and veteran winger Josh Bailey.
Keith Yandle over Anders Lee +130
Yandle is a great pick for a couple of reasons. First, Yandle’s been solid against New York and has much better playoff numbers than Lee. Plus if Florida’s going to win, it’s going to be because they found their groove on offence — an area Yandle is consistently involved in.
Josh Bailey over Aaron Ekblad +110
Comparing regular season numbers alone, neither player really possesses an advantage. Looking further, Josh Bailey has 21 points in 38 career games against Florida and another 17 in 30 playoff games, which is much better than Aaron Ekblad‘s statistics vice versa.
The Florida Panthers and New York Islanders should be a close qualifying round series destined for five games. I’m putting half a unit on this at +120 and adding half a unit each on Evgenii Dadonov to lead the series in scoring at +1000, Keith Yandle to outscore Anders Lee at +130, and Josh Bailey to outscore Aaron Ekblad at +110.
The choice is yours and yours alone. But we are here to guide through this difficult process. Again this is for entertainment purposes only. Nothing guaranteed, and please enjoy responsibly.