Wednesday night, all eyes will be on the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders doing battle in Game 6. The Islanders have a chance to close out the series with a win at home, while the Bruins can steal a game on the road and force a Game 7 in their own arena.
Here is a quick look at the series so far, some players to watch, along with a key stat and free betting pick. The latest odds have the Bruins favored at –142, while the Islanders are +120 underdogs at home.
The Bruins took control of the series early on. Game 1 was headlined by a hat trick from right-wing David Pastrnak and a 40-22 shot differential, as Boston cruised to a 5-2 victory.
After switching from Ilya Sorokin to the veteran Semyon Varlamov in the net, the Islanders bounced back in Game 2. New York scored three times in the second, two of which on the power play, before center Casey Cizikas buried the overtime winner to even up the series with a 4-3 win.
Game 3 was another overtime thriller. With the score even at one, left-wing Brad Marchand scored from a tough angle in extra time to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 win and 2-1 series lead. Boston once again had a solid shot advantage, while goalie Tuukka Rask earned the game’s first star with 28 saves.
Facing a possibility of being down 3-1 in a series, the Islanders took control with a late flurry in Game 4. Tied 1-1 going into the final period, center Mathew Barzal scored his second goal in as many games, which served as the eventual game-winner as New York won 4-1.
Finally, in Game 5, after trading wins in each of the first four games, New York held on. The Islanders scored three power-play goals, one of which from Barzal, and despite nearly blowing a three-goal lead in the third period, ended the night with a 5-4 victory despite being outshot 44-19.
Players to Watch
After his Game 1 hat trick, Pastrnak was held to just two assists in three games before netting two goals in Monday’s loss. He and Marchand, who has three goals this series, will need to be very active on offense again on Wednesday.
Just like the last game, the play of left-wing Taylor Hall plays a pivotal role in Boston’s success. This postseason, the Bruins are 5-0 when he earns a point and 1-4 when he doesn’t.
Following a two-game point drought, left-wing Anthony Beauvillier responded with two assists in Game 5, tying him with center Jean–Gabriel Pageau for the team lead at 11 points. Center Josh Bailey also had two points on Monday, just his second game of the series with at least a point.
Barzal is also starting to heat up for the Islanders. With points in just two of his first seven playoff games, the young center now has points in four straight, including goals in the last three and back-to-back multi-point nights.
A lot of the talk on Monday was about officiating and Boston’s massive shot advantage. However, more needs to be discussed about how the Islanders kept the Bruins from good chances. Despite a lot of the game being played in their own zone, New York held the B’s to just six high-danger chances at even strength.
In this contest, a couple of things worry me about the Bruins. First, Tuukka Rask had to get pulled during Game 5 for rookie Jeremy Swayman offers at least a little bit of intrigue as to who will start in net on Wednesday.
Second, Boston’s dynamic top line of Pastrnak, Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron have been responsible for most of the offense this series. However, the trio was held to a 36 percent expected goal rate in the two games in Long Island after playing to a 70 percent rate in the three games at home.
New York is a great home team, having gone 21-4-3 in the regular season and 4-1 in the playoffs. I’m banking on them at plus money to close the deal and advance to the final four for the second year in a row.
Pick: Islanders +120