Islanders vs. Flyers prediction: NHL odds, picks for must-win Monday matchup

The Islanders have a true must-win game on Monday night in Philadelphia.

The Islanders trail the Flyers by five points for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with nine games left on their schedule, but the Isles have a pair of games in hand on Philadelphia.

A win in regulation for the Islanders would give them control of their own destiny in a race with the Flyers. A loss would all but end the season for Patrick Roy’s team.

Adding to the drama is the fact that bookmakers opened this game as a coin flip.

Neither the Islanders nor the Flyers are in great form.

The Islanders are 2-7-1 in their past 10 games and are coming off a 1-1 road trip through Florida that saw them beat the Panthers 3-2 and then fall to the Lightning 4-1.

Islanders vs. Flyers prediction

(7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Those results are a decent microcosm of the 2023-24 regular season for the Islanders.

They’ve been capable of showing flashes of strong play, especially under Roy, but they’ve been plagued by inconsistency since October.

Islanders fans have found themselves frustrated all season because it seems like when the team fixes an area of its game, another issue pops up.

The Islanders have played a strong defensive game of late, limiting opponents to just 77 high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five, but they are really struggling to find the back of the net.

The Islanders have scored just 19 goals in their past 10 contests and six of those came in one game.

The Flyers have been a much more consistent team compared to the Islanders, but they’re 3-5-2 in their past 10 games and have conceded 41 goals in that span.

Adding to the frustration is that Philadelphia has not played all that poorly during this stretch.

The Flyers are generally creating more scoring chances at five-on-five than their opponents, but they’re just not getting saves.

Samuel Ersson, a rookie goaltender who entered the season as the backup, has been thrust into the starting role due to Carter Hart’s suspension for his involvement in the Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal.

The Flyers have a must-win matchup on Monday with the Islanders. NHLI via Getty Images

Ersson has done an admirable job this season, but he has come apart of late and the Flyers clearly are concerned that the 24-year-old is burned out because they brought Ivan Fedotov over from the KHL.

Fedotov, 27, is 6-foot-7 and has strong numbers in his KHL and international career, but he has never played a professional game in North America.

It’s anybody’s guess if John Tortorella will roll the dice with Fedotov or start Ersson, but it seems pretty safe to assume the Flyers will want to play a tidy defensive game to insulate their netminder as much as possible.

The Islanders won’t have any issue engaging in that kind of contest, either, which should lead to a pretty cagey game with both teams putting an emphasis on playing clean and not making a mistake, especially in the early going.

Betting on the NHL?

I’m betting on this being a low-event contest, which puts value on the Under, but I’d also take a hard look at the first period ending 0-0 as these two teams try to feel one another out in what is essentially a playoff game.

Recommendation: First period Under 0.5 goals (+350, FanDuel)

Michael Leboff analyzes the NHL for Action Network.

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