NHL picks: 4 best bets for Bruins vs Islanders Game 6
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets for Game 6 between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders on Wednesday.
With the Boston Bruins on the brink of elimination, the New York Islanders have the tough task of closing this series out with three straight wins. They have the advantage of playing at home where they’ve won three of five postseason contests, but the Bruins are not going to go quietly. They have too much experience and talent up and down their lineup to just wither away in this series.
The one concern for Boston, however, is the health of starter Tuukka Rask. Coach Bruce Cassidy said he was pulled out of Game 5 for health reasons and that it was unclear of his status going forward. If Rask can’t go, it will be rookie Jeremy Swayman, who has 10 games of NHL experience and played 19 minutes in Game 5 after Rask was pulled. This is a tough spot to put a first-year goalie in, but we’ve seen it work before in this postseason as the Florida Panthers turned to a rookie while facing elimination.
If Rask can’t play, that’s a pretty big loss for the Bruins. Meanwhile, the Islanders seem to have found some stability in net with Semyon Varlamov, who has performed well enough to keep them in the series. He also has been more dominant at home throughout the season, posting a .937 save percentage on Long Island.
With Varlamov re-establishing his game, Rask potentially not at 100 per cent, the Islanders pumping in nine goals over the last two wins and being on home ice, the stage is set for a close-out game. I don’t expect it to be easy, but this Islanders team is rolling at the moment.
Regardless of who is in net for the Bruins, the Islanders are going to be looking at jumping on them early. If it’s a less-than-100 per cent Rask, they’ll want to test him to see if he’s healthy and see how he’s moving. If it’s Swayman, they’ll want to overwhelm the rookie early.
I don’t think this game will be as high scoring as the last two, but I do think the Islanders will be looking to get up early and keep pouring it on, which is why I see them being the first team to two goals in this game.
With goals in three straight games and points in four of the five games this series, Barzal has made himself a pretty significant factor against Boston. He seems to have really found his playoff legs and is rolling right now.
Barzal had two points in each of the Islanders’ last two wins. With home-ice advantage, coach Barry Trotz can make sure he’s getting Barzal favorable matchups. He was nearly a point-per-game player on home ice this season and really flies around the Coliseum ice.
With six points in the series so far, he can really put an exclamation mark on it with two or more points Wednesday night.
In the two games of this series played in Nassau Coliseum, the two teams accounted for 63 shots on goal in Game 3, and 70 shots on goal in Game 4. Both teams have poured shots on goal with relative consistency throughout the series. They’ve hit over 62.5 shots in four of the five previous games, and in the one they didn’t they combined for 62 shots on the nose.
While the Islanders have been known for their defensive prowess, this series has been all about offense for both sides. The games have had great pace, a lot of scoring and a lot of shots. I don’t think that stops just because Game 6 is a potential close-out game.