Bruins vs. Islanders - Game 3 NHL Picks
Thursday’s NHL slate gives us two pivotal game threes. The New York Islanders return home to the Nassau Coliseum after earning a split on the road in Boston against the Bruins.
Series Tied 1-1
The Boston Bruins were absolutely dominant in game one en route to a 5-2 victory. Three minutes into game two, the Bruins were up 1-0. At that point, it looked like we might get a short series. However, the Islanders fought back to take a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Boston scored twice to even the game, and heading into overtime, it seemed like the Bruins had all the momentum. Despite this, New York controlled play in overtime and won it with a Casey Cizikas breakaway goal.
The game two victory by the Isles encapsulated everything the team is about. They could have folded after falling behind early, and they could have folded after blowing a two goal lead in the third period on the road. However, they stuck in there and stole a game on the road.
After posting just a 19.9% expected goal rate in game one, the Isles rebounded nicely and played an even game in game two. When adjusted for score effects, the expected goals in game two were 2.41 to 2.38 in favor of Boston. Things should continue to improve for the Isles as they head to Long Island, where coach Barry Trotz can control the matchups.
There’s more reason for optimism in New York, as Mat Barzal had his best game of the postseason. Barzal had an assist on the powerplay, but for the first time in quite awhile, he was noticeable at even-strength with linemates Jordan Eberle and Leo Komarov. The trio posted an expected goal rate of 81.3%. When the line was on the ice, the Isles out attempted the Bruins 18-8.
After a dominant effort in the series opener, Boston’s perfection line was much more tame in the second game of the series. Trotz and the Islanders adjusted, holding the trio to just a 39.8% expected goal rate.
Many expected this series to be a low-scoring series, but we’ve seen 14 goals in the first two games of this series. The Isles went from Ilya Sorokin in game one to Semyon Varlamov in game two. After winning his start, expect to see Varlamov back in the crease for New York on Thursday. He’s been subpar in these playoffs, posting a -2.1 goals saved above expectation mark.
There’s been rumblings in Boston about a potential minor injury to Tuukka Rask. Rask was beaten four times by the Isles in game two and has given up six goals in this series already. Usually one of the best goaltenders in the league, Rask has looked unsteady at times in this series. It’s something worth monitoring for the Bruins.
In addition to question marks in net, both teams have been electric on the powerplay through the first two games of this series. New York has converted three of six powerplays into goals, a cool 50% success rate. Not to be outdone, the Bruins have been even more efficient with the man advantage. New York has killed just one of their four penalties in this series, as Boston is converting at a 75% clip.
The total in this game is listed at a flat five goals. Coming into the series, I could see why one would expect such a low scoring series between these teams. However, with both teams' top players looking dangerous, questionable goaltending at both ends, and extremely successful powerplays, I think it will take at least three goals to win this game. With the total sitting at five, a 2-2 game guarantees you at least a push. I think both teams will score at least twice on Long Island.
The Pick: Over 5 Goals @ -108 (Click to bet)