The New York Islanders hope to take advantage of their second chance to knock out the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of Thursday night's conference semifinals face-off.
Thanks to a winning goal by Scott Laughton, the Flyers escaped with a 4-3 overtime victory to avoid elimination. However, New York scored twice late to force the extra period, as Philly's woes late in games continued.
In abe Insights' preview, you'll find the best odds listed at publication, analysis of the main betting lines, advanced stats and additional information for this Stanley Cup playoffs matchup.
Date: Thursday, September 3
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Flyers 47%; Islanders 53%
Spread: PHI +1.5 (-260); NYI -1.5 (+230)
Moneyline: PHI +115; NYI -115
Goalies are always a key storyline, so let's discuss Philly's Carter Hart and his counterpart Semyon Varlamov. Hart turned away two quality chances in overtime of Game 5 to help the Orange and Black prevail, continuing an impressive postseason at age 22.
As for Varlamov, he's had a couple shaky outings in the games the Isles have lost. He allowed three goals on 10 shots in Game 3, and let in four in his most recent appearance. If Varlamov can get back on track, New York has a good chance of finishing the Flyers.
.833 vs. .765: Among the goalies who've appeared in eight games during these playoffs, Varlamov has the third-worst power play save percentage, while Hart's number ranks dead-last in the NHL. These netminders will be under the microscope whenever each team has the man advantage tonight.
50.94 vs. 36.66: These figures are the shots on goal per 60 minutes in 5-on-4 situations for Philadelphia and the Isles respectively. New York not only gets more pucks on net on the power play, but also holds a huge edge in expected goals for at 8.17 to 4.2.
0.53 vs. -0.40: In expected goals for-and-against ratio per 60 minutes, the Islanders are up, whereas the Flyers are operating at a deficit. It's a testament to how sound New York has been on defense, as several of Philly's goals are more attributable to puck luck.
The Islanders make their living by dominating the neutral zone, blocking shots and converting defense into offense quickly. They got away from that identity in Game 5, as a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers and a savvy deflection by Flyers forward Claude Giroux put New York in a 3-1 hole it ultimately couldn't dig out of.
Because of these issues, Varlamov wasn't quite as much at fault as his basic box score stat line would indicate. Plus, he nearly did well enough to get the "W" had it not been for some brilliant saves by Hart in OT. There's reason to believe New York's loss was an aberration that'll be corrected abruptly in Game 6.
Also worth bearing in mind is the fact that the Islanders have failed to finish opponents on the first try in each of the two prior series. They had a chance to sweep Florida in the qualifier round and Washington in the Round of 16, yet let those shots slip by in 3-2 losses.
How did New York respond to those setbacks? By crushing the Panthers 5-1 first, and then shutting out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals offense 4-0. This scrappy sixth-seeded bunch is no stranger to rallying from adversity, and the Isles have had the Flyers on the ropes all series long.
A persistent, discouraging trend for Philadelphia continued in Game 5 when the Islanders scored twice in the final five minutes of regulation. That brings the third-period playoff goal tally to 21 for New York and only six for the Flyers, who must finish strong on Thursday to stay alive.
Momentum rests with Philly, which can't be underplayed, yet the Islanders must feel confident they can recover since they nearly rallied to win Game 5. Look for more bets to be placed on New York's spread and moneyline.
Chances are the Isles will tighten up their defense and make sure to start stronger following a 3-0 Game 2 deficit and allowing three straight goals in the last contest. With Varlamov due for a bounce-back performance, too, wagers should trend toward the Under goal total.
Note: Odds current as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 3.
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