The Philadelphia Flyers have gutted out three overtime periods in their past two wins to force Game 7 on Saturday in their second-round series against the New York Islanders.
This will be the third Game 7 in two days for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and after Vegas managed to get past Vancouver 3-0, Philadelphia seeks to join its fellow No. 1 seed in the Conference Finals. But will the Islanders play spoiler tonight in Toronto?
Continue on for the rest of abe Insights' preview, which features the best odds, analysis of the main betting lines, stats to know additional information for this deciding showdown.
Date: Saturday, September 5
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Islanders 57%; Flyers 45%
Spread: NYI -1.5 (+210); PHI +1.5 (-250)
Moneyline: PHI +120; NYI -134
Semyon Varlamov had been as hot as any goalie in the playoffs until recently. The Islanders netminder got chased after allowing three goals on 10 shots in Game 2, he's lost back-to-back appearances, conceding nine total goals in the process. Thomas Greiss may supplant Varlamov between the pipes.
Guarding the other crease for Philly will definitely be Carter Hart. He earned first-star honors in Game 6's 5-4 double-overtime victory by withstanding a barrage of shots from New York, making a career-high 49 saves to help the Flyers stave off elimination.
40 vs. 21: These are the combined playoff goal totals in the second and third periods for the Isles and Philadelphia respectively. It's been early deficits that have cost New York a chance to advance thus far, so if the Flyers don't start fast again, it stands to reason they'll be in trouble.
3.98 vs. 3.59: Varlamov and Greiss had identical expected rebounds per save percentages among goalies who played 31 games in 2019-20, tying for second-best in the category (h/t MoneyPuck.com). Hart's higher total shows he's more susceptible to coughing up second-chance opportunities, as he placed 25th among qualifiers.
-0.32 vs. 0.19: Fortune has favored Philadelphia in three overtime wins. The negative ratio of expected goals minus actual goals per 60 minutes suggests the Flyers, too, are having better puck luck when they throw it on net than the Isles.
It turns out the underdog status that suited the Islanders well as a sixth seed advancing this far into the postseason could only go so far. New York still has a chance to knock off the Orange and Black tonight, but after failing to close them out twice in such heartbreaking fashion, the task becomes exponentially more difficult.
Offense wasn't the Isles' calling card during the 2019-20 campaign, yet their attack has generated more than enough production the past two times out to advance. Could coach Barry Trotz really turn to Greiss between the pipes if Varlamov struggles again early — or might Greiss start Game 7 from the opening face-off? That'll be fascinating to monitor.
The fact this is even a conversation doesn't bode well for Varlamov, yet it make be the shake-up he needs to return to form. It's also an element of mystery the Isles can use as tactical leverage. Trotz may not make the call public until mere hours before the puck drops, and it's a difficult decision no matter who gets the nod.
In addition to winning Game 4 with 36 saves, Greiss relieved Varlamov in Game 2 as the Isles rallied to force overtime, only to lose 4-3. It has to haunt New York that all its losses to Philadelphia came after regulation, and that carryover may prove costly in Saturday's grand finale.
Might as well call them the Cardiac Fly Guys, because the Flyers have barely eked out all their wins in this series. They'd truly buck the odds by managing to advance, and oddsmakers seem to think the Isles will get the job done.
With all that said, look for wagers to favor Philadelphia's moneyline due to the slightly better value, and the Islanders' spread in what should be a high-scoring matchup wherein the goal total bets' action skews to the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 5.
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