NHL Picks: Motivation Gives Winning Edge To Islanders vs. Flyers

Swinging Johnson

Sunday, April 10, 2016 2:50 PM GMT

The regular season comes to a close with the Flyers taking on the Islanders. Both teams have clinched playoff berths but let's see if we can add one more winner to our NHL picks.

Philadelphia Freedom
Before the weekend began the Flyers were on the outside looking in to the playoff bubble with the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings looking right back at them with their tongues sticking out. But the complexion of the situation changed dramatically when both Boston and Detroit lost their Saturday afternoon matinees. Prior to facing off against the Penguins, the Flyers already knew the outcomes of both games and realized their fate rested solely in their hands. After the final buzzer sounded, Philadelphia secured a 3-1 victory over their intrastate rivals and crashed the postseason party, knocking the Bruins out of the playoff picture.

Now that it is mission accomplished there isn't much for the Flyers to play for this evening. Win or lose they will enter the postseason as the lowest of two wildcard entries which means they will be the opening round sacrificial lambs to a Washington Capitals' slaughter. Of course anything can happen in the postseason but a series beginning on the road against the best team in hockey is far from ideal. However, if you asked the Boston Bruins this morning they would gladly trade places with Philadelphia. The Flyers have one more game on their regular season slate and the most important thing for them to do tonight is to get through this one without any injuries or issues that will adversely affect their chances against Washington.

 

Islanders Look to Leapfrog
The New York Islanders have been on a tear lately, much to the satisfaction of those who decided to jump on their late season bandwagon by including New York in their NHL picks down the homestretch. The Isles have won six of their last seven games with no bigger victories than those over the Capitals and Rangers in their last two contests. Tuesday night the NHL odds makers made the Flyers a +160 road dog headed into DC and Philly proved them wrong with a huge 4-3 victory over the Caps. Two nights later the club traveled to Madison Square Garden and captured a stunning 4-1 win over the Rangers, positioning them for a chance to overtake the Blueshirts in the Metropolitan Division standings.

As the Islanders close the book on the 2015-2016 campaign they can look back to an ending that has seen them go from the brink of obscurity to a possible third place spot in the division with a win today. Thomas Griess has been stellar between the pipes this season for New York and he had to be after platoon mate Jaroslav Halak went down with an injury. The Islanders will likely end the season with the 11th ranked offense, 12th ranked defense, 13th ranked power play and 2nd ranked penalty killing unit. Twenty-five-year-old John Tavares leads the team with 33 goals and 37 assists for 70 points on the season.

 

Betting Analysis
The only team with anything to gain in this one is the New York Islanders. If they win, they bounce the Rangers from third place in the Met and will get a series with the Penguins. If the Isles lose they face off against the Atlantic Division winning Florida Panthers. However, a victory tonight may not be such a prize for the Islanders who went 1-2 straight up against Florida but 1-3 against Pittsburgh. Either way, the Islanders will be on the road but getting the opportunity to bump the Rangers into a wildcard seed may be enough motivation for them to get it done today in front of the home crowd.

The Isles have split the season series with the Flyers but hold a 4-2 advantage when the games are played in New York over the last six at home against Philly. The NHL odds have not been released as of this early Sunday morning writing but when they are, expect the Islanders to take advantage of a Flyers team that will be in letdown mode after squeaking into the postseason and with nothing to gain here.

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NHL Pick: Islanders -104
Best Line Offered: at Heritage