The Islanders lead the series 3-2. The pick drops at 7 pm EDT.
Flyers (+105) @ Islanders (5)
Pick: Islanders -117
On Thursday night, New York tries again to get to its first conference final in 27 years. After the Flyers forced a sixth game with a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5 on Tuesday, the Islanders saw their series lead shrink to 3-2. For most of regulation in Game 5, the Islanders were relying heavily on netminder Semyon Varlamov and found themselves trailing 3-1 early in the third period. A late push from Barry Trotz’s team got the game tied, but the Flyers regrouped in overtime as a Scott Laughton deflection sent us to Game 6. Trotz went on record after Game 4 saying that it was their “worst game to this point in the playoffs,” and that was after a 3-2 win as New York had to bank on a stellar outing from backup goalie Thomas Greiss. Has the momentum in this series changed? It’s possible and a Flyers win would not shock us tonight.
But, we can’t look past the status for the top centers for each team seemingly trending in opposite directions entering Game 6. New York’s Mathew Barzal took a stick to the face late in Game 5, but all signs seem to indicate the electric young Canadian will dress for the Islanders tonight. It’s not looking as optimistic for Sean Couturier for the Flyers, who appeared to suffer some sort of lower body injury finishing a hit, ironically on Barzal, and did not play in the third period or overtime on Tuesday night. Couturier usually centers a line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek which has produced a goal for the Flyers in Games 4 and 5 and undoubtedly been the best line for the orange and black in the last two games. He’s a true 200-foot center whose absence cannot be understated. In playoff hockey, you never really know until 15-20 minutes before the puck drops what the deal is with injured players, but we’re going to safely assume that even if Couturier does suit up, he will be a shell of himself. The Islanders are deeper up the middle anyway so their top center seemingly being in better condition is noteworthy.
I would lean towards the under if making a play on the total, but 5 is such a low total to bet under that I prefer taking the Islanders in what I think will be a low-scoring game which favors New York as the Islanders three wins in this series have been by final scores of 4-0, 3-1 and 3-2.