NHL Betting lines: Will the New York Islanders send the Boston Bruins packing in Game 6?

·4 min read

The favored Boston Bruins find themselves on the brink of elimination tonight as they take on the New York Islanders in a pivotal Game 6.

Let's get to it.

All odds courtesy of BetMGM

Boston Bruins (-145) @ New York Islanders (+120) — Total: 5

Sometimes, the best hockey team doesn't always win.

Sometimes, 5-on-5 play isn't the determining factor either. Sometimes, all you need is one player, one moment, that makes all the difference.

You could say that's been the story of the New York Islanders as they've taken a 3-2 lead over the pre-series favorite Boston Bruins.

By most advanced metrics, Boston has outplayed New York all series. In fact, they outshot the Islanders a whopping 44-19 (!!!) in Game 5, only to lose the game 5-4. The chances of the Islanders scoring five times on so few attempts are unlikely, but it's the perfect example of not only how much puck-luck they've gotten, but also how advantageous they've been when key opportunities present themselves.

Specifically, when Boston has made mistakes. The Isles have scored five power-play goals this series — pretty much one per game. They might not have the big-name star power or offensive strength the Bruins possess, but the Isles play fundamentally strong hockey, stifling defense, and they know how to cash in on the man-advantage. All that has helped them push the Bruins to the brink. Head coach Barry Trotz line-shuffling this series has been masterful as well, throwing different looks at Boston at the right times.

Another interesting note heading into Game 6: Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask's status. He was pulled in Game 5 in favor of rookie Jeremy Swayman, and head coach Bruce Cassidy later admitted that Rask isn't fully healthy.

Does Boston take its chances with a less-than-100-percent Rask, or do they put their season in the hands of the rook? Neither scenario inspires much confidence.

On the other hand, inspiration and confidence have to be filling the Islanders up right now. Semyon Varlamov has been admirable in net after losing time to Ilya Sorokin in the Islanders series versus the Penguins. Perhaps more importantly, however, has been the recent play of star forward, Mathew Barzal. The electrifying 24-year-old has scored in three straight; if he's hot, that's bad news for the Bruins.

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) blocks the shot from New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13)
Boston is in trouble if Mat Barzal is taking over this series. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Even more bad news for a reeling, undoubtedly shocked Boston team: They're 1-5 their last six games playing the Isles in Long Island, while New York is 4-1 ATS at home their last five. -225 is too much chalk to take the Islanders +1.5, but it might be the most likely bet to hit tonight.

Now, if any of you like to live dangerously, the Islanders -1.5 is +310 on BetMGM. I can't imagine Boston losing by multiple goals tonight, but man, that's some healthy juice.

Speaking of juice, oddsmakers are making you pay up for this elusive 5 total (OVER is -145, UNDER is +120). I'm always wary when I see a 5 in hockey O/Us. My mind instantly thinks it's a trap; that if I take the UNDER, it'll be 3-2 by the second period — if I take the OVER, the game will end 1-0. Games 1, 2, and 5 of this series all went OVER — all were played at the TD Garden. Games 3 and 4, however, went UNDER and pushed, respectively. Take that information and do with it what you will, but I won't be touching this total.

It's interesting that the Islanders are a +120 dog (at time of this writing) for this game. I expected less juice for a team that not only leads the series, will play at home (where they've been dominant), but whose goaltender is the more healthy of the two. Those odds probably speak to just how much better the Bruins have been this series, save for some penalty problems; +120 could very well be a trap to lure you in only for Boston to win, 5-2.

Yet, this could also mean that the odds haven't adjusted to the Islanders' defensive wizardry at home, and how Boston's Perfection Line has fared much better at the TD Garden than at Nassau Coliseum.

Betting against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum is something I haven't done often this series or this season — and I won't be doing it here either. +120 is just too good of a number to pass up. If it was something like +105, I might be looking towards the Bruins to survive, but here we are.

Like I said at the start, Boston has been the better team, but the better team doesn't always win. I think the Islanders close them out in a tight affair tonight.

Pick: New York Islanders ML (+120)