NHL Monday best bets: Islanders to prevail in Horvat's debut
With the All-Star break behind us, the unofficial start of the season's second half begins Monday night.
We have a fairly juicy six-game slate on the docket as the NHL returns to action. Let's take a look at a couple that stand out.
The Islanders have won only three of their last 10 games and sit outside of the playoffs as a result.
There's plenty of reason to believe they can get back on track Monday night against the Flyers.
First and foremost, the Flyers are vulnerable defensively. At five-on-five over the last 10 games, they rank bottom five in shot suppression and bottom 10 in high-danger chance prevention. They're making life very difficult for Carter Hart.
The Islanders aren't exactly world-beaters offensively, but the Flyers are the kind of team that can bring out their opponents' ceiling. Not to mention, New York should get a big-time spark with Bo Horvat debuting on the top line alongside Mathew Barzal.
Horvat has converted an unsustainably high percentage of his shots this season. Still, he provides some much-needed pop at even strength and is one of the league's better skaters below the dots on the power play. Even a small boost to the team's offense would go a long way with Ilya Sorokin between the pipes.
Sorokin ranks second in the NHL in goals saved above expected this season and has caused the Flyers nothing but problems since entering the NHL. He has won seven of his last nine games against Philadelphia and conceded just two goals in both defeats.
I expect him to severely limit Philadelphia's offense once again. If he can do that and Horvat can provide a spark to New York's attack, the Islanders should pick up an important win.
Bet: Islanders (-125)
The Lightning once again look the part of Stanley Cup contenders. They were a little slow out of the gate, treading water over the season's first 14 games.
Since then, they've been as good as any team. The Bolts are just a win back of the Bruins for the league lead in that time, and they've played two fewer games.
The offense - led by Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden Point - is steering the ship, as the Lightning have been unstoppable in the final third of the ice.
Tampa Bay has generated an average of 3.83 goals and 15.21 high-danger chances per 60 minutes across all situations. Both of those outputs are comfortably tops in the NHL.
That should be nightmare fuel for the Panthers given their current state. Only six teams have given up more high-danger looks over the last 10 games, which is problematic enough when going up against the Lightning.
Making matters worse is the situation in goal. Sergei Bobrovsky posted an .898 save percentage in January and has played two minutes of hockey over the last 20 days. Spencer Knight hasn't made an NHL appearance in nearly a month, and Alex Lyon is, well, Alex Lyon.
Either the Panthers start a netminder who hasn't played in an extended period of time - which tends to lead to a dip in performance - or one who's probably not NHL caliber. All three options are far from ideal in a huge divisional clash against the hottest offense in the sport.
Look for the experienced Lightning to take care of business coming out of the break.
Bet: Lightning (-120)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.