Pittsburgh Penguins’ Kris Letang (58) controls the puck as New York Islanders’ Casey Cizikas (53) defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, March 29, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
- The Pittsburgh Penguins are -127 favorites over the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup East Division first-round series on Sunday, May 16th
- New York has won four of five previous playoff series against Pittsburgh
- The home team has won six of eight meetings between the Islanders and Penguins during regular-season play
To start the Stanley Cup playoffs off on a positive note, the New York Islanders must accomplish something they’ve been unable to do all season long – win a road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders were 11-13-4 on the road during the regular season. That includes an 0-4 slate at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena. The Isles are the only team among the NHL’s 16 playoff clubs to sport a losing road record.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was 22-4-2 at home this season, tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the best mark in the league. The Penguins, who’ve been established as -127 favorites to win Game 1, were just 14-14 against the spread at home this season.
Islanders vs Penguins Game 1 Odds
|Player||Moneyline||Spread at DraftKings||Total|
|New York Islanders||+110||+1.5 (-245)||O 5.5 (+120)|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||-127||-1.5 (+200)||U 5.5 (-143)|
Odds as of May 15th
The puck drops at 12pm ET for Sunday’s series opener. NBC is carrying the broadcast.
Secondary Scoring Vital
When Pittsburgh won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2015-16 and 2016-17, a key cog to those triumphs was the offensive contribution of the club’s third line. Since the trade-deadline acquisition of veteran center and two-time Cup winner Jeff Carter, the Penguins feel like they’ve added that element again.
Carter has scored nine goals in 14 games since arriving in Pittsburgh from the Los Angeles Kings.
The Islanders and Nashville Predators tied for the fewest goals scored by a playoff team. Each club netted 156 goals. The Isles will be without captain Anders Lee, who was their leading goal scorer when he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in March.
Kyle Palmieri was acquired from the New Jersey Devils to help fill that void, but so far hasn’t delivered. Palmieri has scored twice in 17 games. Another player to watch in this regard could be forward Oliver Wahlstrom. He scored 12 times in 44 games, but netted three over his past seven games.
Islanders vs Penguins Series Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
|New York Islanders||+115|
2021 Stanley Cup Odds Tracker
Goaltending A Potential Issue
In terms of netminding, the Penguins are going into the postseason with almost no experience. Tristan Jarry has played one Stanley Cup game, but that’s one more than Casey DeSmith.
The Islanders have their own issues between the pipes of an entirely different variety. Veteran Semyon Varlamov left the team’s final regular-season game against the Boston Bruins with what the team termed a strain.
Schneider hustling into his gear to sit on the bench for the 3rd means this wasn’t a planned Varlamov pull.
Varlamov didn’t dress for the April 27 game in WSH and said two days later that he’d had a small knee issue. Could be something similar now. No reason to take any chances.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) May 11, 2021
Varlamov didn’t practice on Thursday. Calling it a maintenance day, Islanders coach Barry Trotz assured all his number one netminder would be good to go on Sunday. The Russian puckstopper set a club record this season with a 2.04 goals-against average and tied Chico Resch’s team mark for shutouts in a season with seven.
Rookie backup Ilya Sorokin started once against Pittsburgh this season. He posted a 20-save shutout in a 2-0 victory on February 28th. Varlamov shows an .897 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in seven appearances against the Pens.
Pittsburgh has the NHL’s fourth-best power play (23.7%). The Islanders ranked 21st (18.8%) with the man advantage. However, the Pens were 27th (77.4%) on the penalty kill, compared to 6th (83.7%) for the Islanders.
Confirmed: The @penguins and @NYIslanders will clash in the First Round of the 2021 #StanleyCup Playoffs.
This will be the sixth playoff series between the clubs, with New York holding a 4-1 advantage to date including a sweep in their last meeting (2019 First Round). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/LhxU8WYBi5
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 11, 2021
Though Pittsburgh was 6-2 straight up against the Islanders this season, the Pens were just 2-6 ATS. Home teams wn six of the eight meetings. The Islanders stumbled to the regular-season finish line 5-6-3, including four losses in their last five games.
The Game 1 winner has gone on to take four of five previous playoff series between these two teams.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins (-127)
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An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.