NHL Hockey Betting: Florida Panthers at New York Islanders

NHL Hockey Betting:  Florida Panthers at New York Islanders&h=235&w=320&zc=1

A very strange series devoid of form or momentum continues at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday as the New York Islanders have a chance to eliminate the Florida Panthers. The Islanders hold a 3-2 lead but in a just world neither team would be in a position to advance at this point given the nondescript play on both ends of the ice. Not counting a 3-1 Florida win in Game Two the remaining four games of the series have been decided by a single goal. The Islanders won Game One in regulation but both of their subsequent wins came in overtime on the Panthers’ home ice. The rules are clear that once a team wins four games they advance to the next round so if the Islanders get the victory here they go on and the Panthers go home even if it doesn’t seem like either team has done enough to win (or lose) this series.

So Game Six is upon us and the betting line reflects the ‘coin toss’ nature of this series. Neither team deserves to be the favorite over the other at this point which makes it hard to handicap. As we eluded to above, neither team has really distinguished themselves over the other in any way. My power ratings and the ‘eye test’ throughout the season suggest that Florida is the better of the two sides but my opinion and analysis means little here. As far as a big game–and facing elimination is by definition a ‘big game’ the Panthers have more players that you’d want on your team in this situation particularly goaltender Roberto Luongo and legitimate legend Jaromir Jagr. But if that metric was especially salient Florida wouldn’t be facing elimination, would they?

Ultimately, we’re going to do something that I hate to do–base my position on my ‘feelings’ about this game. Handicappers should operate in the realm of numbers and analysis, not normative judgement. But it just ‘feels’ like this series should go seven games and for that to happen the Panthers need to win. They’ve already won on the Islanders’ ice in this series and there’s no reason they can’t do it again to send this back to Florida for Game 7.


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