NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction for Bruins vs. Islanders Game 4: Will New York Tie the Series? (Saturday, June 5)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Semyon Varlamov.
- Game 4 of the series between Boston and New York begins Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
- After 14 combined goals in the first two games, just three were scored in Boston's Game 3 win.
- Pete Truszkowski explains below why he likes the Islanders as home dogs to tie the series up.
Bruins vs. Islanders Odds
|Time||Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday night and via FanDuel.|
Many expected a somewhat one-sided series between the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders prior to the start of the second round. It hasn’t been the case outside of the series opener, as the teams have needed overtime to decide a winner in the last two contests.
After the teams combined for 14 goals in the first two games, Game 3 was the offensive struggle many expected prior to the series. Casey Cizikas won Game 2 for the Isles in Boston, but Brad Marchand returned the favor in front of the Isles fans at the Nassau Coliseum in Game 3 to give the Bruins a 2-1 win.
Will the Isles be able to rebound after their tough loss and even the series? Or will they head to Boston facing elimination in Game 5? Let’s dive into this pivotal Game 4.
What We’ve Learned So Far
Boston has a 2-1 series lead, and it’s probably deserved. The Bruins dominated the Isles in Game 1, but the two teams have played nearly dead-even games over the last two contests. In Games 2 and 3, the expected goal battle favored Boston, 4.6 to 4.35. The high danger chances were dead even, with both teams generating 16 each.
After posting a 91% expected goal rate in Game 1, it looked like the “Perfection Line” featuring Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak was going to dominate the series. However, the Isles have done a tremendous job since that point against Boston’s number one unit. The trio has less than one expected goal (xG) combined in the last two games, while posting an xG rate of just 42.5%. Barry Trotz has entrusted Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock and Jean-Gabriel Pageau to slow down the explosive line, and they’ve done well thus far in limiting their zone time.
However, another Bruins’ line has emerged as a potential issue for the Isles. The Isles have had no answer for Boston’s second line featuring Taylor Hall and David Krejci. Hall was not on the ice for a single Isles shot on goal in Game 3. In this series, they’ve posted a 78.1% expected goal rate. They’ve particularly feasted on the Isles’ second defensive pairing with Scott Mayfield and Nick Leddy.
However, there’s some very encouraging news for the Isles as well. After a slow start to the postseason, it appears Mathew Barzal has arrived. Barzal scored his first goal of the playoffs to tie the game late in the third period on Thursday, but even prior to that, he looked like a different player the past few games. Barzal has appeared dangerous every time he’s had the puck on his stick, and the numbers back that up as he’s posted nearly a 58% expected goal rate in this series.
The goaltending in this series has been weird. Ilya Sorokin started Game 1 for the Isles and lost, leading Barry Trotz to turn the crease over to Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov has given up early goals in both of the last two games, but has been solid for the most part after that.
However, Marchand’s overtime winner in Game 3 was atrocious on Varlamov’s part. Rarely is a goaltender scapegoated after giving up just one goal in regulation and making 39 saves, but it sure did feel like the Isles were on their way to a win in that overtime prior to Varlamov’s whiff. Trotz has expressed his confidence in Varlamov, so expect Sorokin to remain glued to the bench in Saturday’s contest.
In the other crease, Tuukka Rask was brilliant at the start of overtime to give the Bruins a chance to win. He’s posted a 92.2% save percentage in this series. He’s posted a +1.2 goals saved above expectation in this series and quieted the critics who emerged after his average Game 2 performance.
Bruins vs. Islanders Best Bet
There’s no denying the Boston Bruins have more of a pedigree than the New York Islanders. Boston has earned their reputation as a league powerhouse, while the Isles are still trying to get there despite winning playoff series in three consecutive seasons. Boston was on fire to end the regular season and dominated the Capitals in Round 1, while the Isles struggled down the stretch and weren’t overly impressive in their defeat of Pittsburgh.
However, despite this, Boston finished the season with just one more win than New York. They finished the season with similar expected goal differentials (+0.28 for Boston, +0.17 for the Isles) at 5-on-5. The Islanders did a better job in terms of both generating and preventing high danger chances. Their goaltending was better than Boston’s as well.
After a horrid showing in Game 1, the Isles have rebounded nicely over the past two games. They’ve played Boston very tough, and the underlying metrics are nearly a dead heat. I truly believe these teams are closer to equal than the public perception leads one to believe. For that reason, I see value on the Isles as a home underdog in this contest.
Even if Boston was a significantly better team than the Isles, I don’t believe they should be consensus -150 favorites at the Nassau Coliseum. That implies the Bruins have a 60% chance of skating into the Old Barn and putting the Isles on the brink of elimination in front of 12,000 Islanders fans who have been drinking in the parking lot for nine hours. I don’t buy that after what we’ve seen the last two games of this series.
Pick: NY Islanders +128 (up to +115)