NHL picks: Back the Over on Islanders team goals
The NHL playoffs continue tonight with two games on the schedule. The Philadelphia Flyers will try to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 in their second round series with the New York Islanders, while the Vancouver Canucks will look to do the exact same against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Here are the bets we fancy for tonight’s NHL games.
New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Thu, September 3 2020, 11:00 PM
New York Islanders
The Islanders can punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993 with a win tonight against the Flyers in Game 6.
If you flip back to February and March prior to the NHL suspending its season due to COVID-19, the Islanders were in a tailspin. They had lost 11 of 13 games and seven in a row leading up to the league's shutdown. Six months later, they’ve made it within one win of being among the final four teams still chasing the Stanley Cup.
Of the teams still remaining in the postseason, only the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are averaging more goals-for per game than the Islanders (3.29 GF/GP). They’re among the better teams in these playoffs at creating high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick, and they’ve taken advantage of those opportunities.
They’ve also emerged as the stingiest team defensively in these playoffs, allowing just 1.86 goals-against per game.
With a chance to close out this series, I like the Islanders to push the pace and try to deflate Philadelphia early. Mathew Barzal is a game-time decision for the Islanders, so you may want to wait until closer to puck drop to make this bet.
Isles coach Barry Trotz said Mathew Barzal will be a game-time decision.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) September 3, 2020
But given the Islanders' offensive surge in these playoffs, you can feel confident that they’ll bury their chances tonight.
NHL pick: Islanders Over 2.5 team goals (+100)
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks
Fri, September 4 2020, 1:45 AM
Vegas Golden Knights
Let’s be honest – the Canucks absolutely stole a win in Game 5 of their series with the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Canucks were badly outplayed, especially through the first two periods. Overall, they surrendered 79 shot attempts against as Vegas looked to close out the series. Nothing fazed Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko, who was making his first career playoff start after Vancouver’s No. 1 netminder, Jacob Markstrom, was deemed unfit to play with a suspected injury.
Demko was spectacular, stopping 42 of 43 shots faced. He gave his team a chance to win, and the Canucks managed to eke out just enough offense – two goals on 17 shots – to get a comeback 2-1 win and force a Game 6 tonight.
Thatcher Demko becomes just the 15th goaltender in NHL history to win his first career playoff start with his team facing elimination https://t.co/9UCkWv26QT— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) September 2, 2020
That cannot happen two games in a row. There is no way. Speculation was, as of Thursday morning, that Demko would again start in place of Markstrom, although you’ll have to stay tuned throughout the day to hear official word on the starting netminders.
If the Golden Knights control the game like they did the other night and like they’ve done throughout this series, it seems inevitable their offense will break through, likely for more than enough goals to get the win.
The Canucks have relied heavily on their goaltending in these playoffs. Too heavily in this series. They’ve lacked the speed necessary to dictate the game against Vegas. Their lineup, for all the skill in their top-six group of forwards, isn’t nearly as deep as what the Golden Knights are rolling out. Unless Vancouver somehow finds another gear, they’ll need another spectacular goaltending performance just to stay in it.
Feel confident in Vegas taking this game by two goals or more.
NHL pick: Vegas -1.5 puck line (+106)