Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders – Game 6 (NY Islanders lead series 3-2)
The Philadelphia Flyers stayed alive to force a Game 6 in this series with a 4-3 OT win in Game 5. The Flyers coughed up a 3-1 lead in the 3rd Period as the Islanders underrated offense rallied to tie the game in the final 20 minutes but Philadelphia rescued their season by bouncing back and scoring the game-winning goal in OT courtesy of a Scott Laughton redirected shot. The game was fairly even with the Flyers and Islanders ending up tied in shots on goal in Game 5 but the difference was Philadelphia finally getting some of their most talented and skilled forwards to make an impact offensively. Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault requested more from Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk prior to the game saying those two players needed to elevate their game and find a way to make a contribution on the scoresheet as both Giroux and JVR scored a goal for the Flyers en route to the victory in Game 5. The NY Islanders showed how much better an offensive team they are right now to come from behind the way they did in the 3rd Period to force OT and even though they lost the game in the extra session, head coach Barry Trotz was still very positive about his team’s effort and performance during the game: “In the third period, I thought we were coming and obviously we were able to get it tied up. And we had some early chances in the overtime, some Grade-As that if we score on them, we’re not having this conversation.”
A pair of key centers for their respective teams both got injured in a collision that took place in Game 5 as Mathew Barzal of the NY Islanders and Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers both left the game due to injury and are questionable to return for Game 6 tonight. They would be impactful losses for both teams. The New York Islanders continue to show they have been the better team for longer stretches in this series as I would probably say that the NY Islanders have probably won 11 or 12 of the 15 periods of hockey that have been played through the first five games of this series. The Islanders have been better offensively, given up less defensively, and received slightly better goaltending from their duo of goaltenders than the Flyers.
The NY Islanders have also followed a similar pattern in these playoffs. They lost their first opportunity to close out a series and eliminate their opponent in each of the first two rounds they played. The Islanders lost Game 3 against the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round and they lost Game 4 against the Washington Capitals in the last round. However, in both series, they immediately bounced back in the next game after both of those losses to win the next elimination game (their second chance to close out the series). That’s the exact same spot the NY Islanders are in here for Game 6. I expect them to show a similar amount of killer instinct and I’ll back the Isles to finish this series tonight. I will also bet this game Over 5. With this being an elimination game, expect a solid chance of seeing 5+ goals here.
NY Islanders -115
Philadelphia/NY Islanders Over 5 -105
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks – Game 6 (Vegas leads series 3-2)
The Vancouver Canucks might have been already out of the bubble and back home at the time this Game 6 is slated to start had it not been for a phenomenal performance in some very tough circumstances by backup goaltender Thatcher Demko who stepped in to replace Jacob Markstrom in net for the Canucks after Markstrom was ruled out and deemed “unfit to play” for Game 5. Demko delivered a sensational performance turning aside 42 of 42 Vegas shots for a 2-1 Vancouver win. The shots on goal edge was 43-17 in favor of Vegas so it may not appear this way but the Vancouver Canucks played their asses off in the win as every single player on the ice was making hits, blocking shots and working as a collective to clear pucks out of the zone and try to protect the front of the net against the relentless wave of offensive zone attacks from the Golden Knights. Unfortunately for Vegas, they ran into a brick wall put up by Vancouver’s surprise starting goaltender Thatcher Demko.
Vegas has been here before though in the playoffs in the previous round against Chicago. The Golden Knights in Game 4 of that series looking to sweep the Blackhawks should have defeated Chicago but Corey Crawford had an incredible performance in net for them stealing the game for Chicago and forcing a Game 5. However, the Golden Knights managed to bounce back in Game 5 and end the series with a 4-3 victory. This Game 6 against Vancouver sets up in a very similar fashion for Vegas as that one. I think they will have a better idea of the tendencies and weaknesses of Demko in net if he indeed gets a second straight start. The Golden Knights players as well as head coach Peter DeBoer stated after the loss they needed to make life more difficult for the Vancouver goalie by generating more traffic in front of him and getting at the rebounds in front of the net. I expect them to follow through on those words here in Game 6.
This series has gone back and forth totals wise from game to game. Game 1, 3 and 5 stayed under the total and Game 2 and 4 went over the total. I expect this game to revert back to a higher scoring game. Vegas is likely to come out flying and will pressure Vancouver quite a bit early in the game similar to what Colorado did against Dallas in Game 5 of their series. The Golden Knights may not get 5 goals in the 1st Period like Colorado did in that game but you catch my drift. I expect Vegas to really be on the aggressive and shoot as many pucks toward the net at Thatcher Demko or Jacob Markstrom depending on whether Markstrom is ready to return after a one game absence. The three wins in this series for Vegas have all been by margins of 2 or more goals. I think Vegas ends the series here in Game 6 and I will lay the -1.5 goals with the Golden Knights and also bet this game over the total.
Vegas PL -1.5 +110
Vegas/Vancouver Over 6 -110