It's not a bad slate of sports on Tuesday night. We have mid-week MACtion in the college football world. There are some intriguing matchups in the early days of college basketball. The NBA schedule is light, but it's headlined by a downright beautiful Warriors-Nets matchup.
However, Tuesdays and hockey usually go hand-in-hand, and this week is no different. We have 11 games on tap tonight as the season enters its second month. Soon enough, the pretenders will be separated from the contenders.
Dog of the day
Year-to-date record: 8-4-0
Year-to-date units: +6.25 units
The unfortunate reality of being an underdog bettor is that you often have to go against good teams. The other unfortunate reality is that sometimes your bet can make you feel ridiculously silly in hindsight. Both are on the table for me on Tuesday night, but the value is too much to ignore.
I'm going with the New York Islanders to beat the Florida Panthers tonight. The Islanders are +155 underdogs at BetMGM.
Things are not going well for the Islanders right now. The team has lost three straight games, scoring just three goals in those three games.
However, there's light at the end of the tunnel. The Islanders play their 13th game of the season tonight. They also play their 13th road game. The team opened the season with a 13-game road trip while waiting for its new arena to be finished. UBS Arena opens on Saturday, when the Islanders play their first home game.
Through the first 12 games of this trip, the Islanders have gone 5-5-2. That means that Tuesday's game will decide whether it was a winning road trip or a losing one. It might be meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but I wouldn't disregard that being a potential goal for New York.
We know about the Panthers. They've been the league's best team, going 10-2-3 through their first 15 games. However, since Joel Quenneville resigned as head coach on Oct. 29, the Panthers have gone 3-2-3. Two of Florida's three wins required overtime. Safe to say that after a ridiculous start, the Panthers have come back down to earth.
Under Barry Trotz over the past three-plus seasons, the Islanders have been money as underdogs. This is a defensive-oriented team that thrives in close games and always finds it within a goal late in games. When you turn games against more talented teams into coin flips, that's a good thing. I'll take +150 odds on a coin flip.
These odds are also probably inflated due to the fact the Islanders played last night. However, under Trotz, the Islanders are 22-5-4 in the second half of back-to-back games. A big reason for this is the team employs two top-level goalies. Ilya Sorokin and his .933 save percentage will start on Tuesday.
There's just enough value for me to take the Islanders as +155 underdogs here, knowing full well this might be a mentally and physically exhausted team that just wants to go home.
Rest of the slate
Calgary at Philadelphia: Both the Flyers and Flames entered the season with many expecting them to be middling teams, and they've overperformed those expectations. Carter Hart and Jacob Markstrom have both been extremely solid between the pipes. The standings might paint a picture that these teams are equal, but the advanced metrics don't. Calgary has a huge edge in terms of puck-possession and shot quality metrics. I'll back the Flames here as slight road favorites at -115.
Edmonton at Winnipeg: The Oilers are known for their ability to outscore opponents despite questionable defensive and goaltending efforts. The Jets have one of the league's worst defensive units, but their goaltender bails them out plenty. With Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele back for the Jets, they too can score. Rather than picking a winner, I'd bet over 6.5 goals between the Oilers and Jets, and sit back and root for a fun back-and-forth affair.
Washington at Anaheim: Both teams have won nine games on the season, but I'm much more confident in the Capitals being the real deal than I am the Ducks. Anaheim ranks bottom 10 in most advanced puck-possession metrics while the Capitals find themselves in the top 10. Give me Washington as a short -135 road favorite here.
Below are the expected starting goalies for Tuesday night. Backup goaltenders are in bold.
Nashville Predators (Juuse Saros) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (likely Jack Campbell)
New York Islanders (Ilya Sorokin) vs. Florida Panthers (Sergei Bobrovsky)
Montreal Canadiens (Cayden Primeau) vs. New York Rangers (Igor Shesterkin)
Calgary Flames (likely Jacob Markstrom) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Carter Hart)
Buffalo Sabres (Dustin Tokarski) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Tristan Jarry)
Arizona Coyotes (Scott Wedgewood) vs. St. Louis Blues (Jordan Binnington)
San Jose Sharks (James Reimer) vs. Minnesota Wild (Cam Talbot)
Edmonton Oilers (Mikko Koskinen) vs. Winnipeg Jets (Connor Hellebuyck)
Detroit Red Wings (likely Alex Nedeljkovic) vs. Dallas Stars (Jake Oettinger)
Carolina Hurricanes (Antti Raanta) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (likely Robin Lehner)
Washington Capitals (Vitek Vanecek) vs. Anaheim Ducks (John Gibson)