Millions of bettors nodded their heads at the result of Game 3 between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders. The Bruins came away with a 2-1 win in a game that went to overtime and stayed well under the total. That was what we expected from this series. Close, low-scoring games, not the 5-2 and 4-3 finals that we saw in Boston.
Game 4 is a very important game for both teams. The Bruins can give themselves a chance at winning the series without making a second trip to raucous Nassau County Coliseum. The Islanders can ensure that they’ll play at least one more game at home.
Boston got up into the -150 range for Game 3 and has been bet up into that range again for Game 4 with a total of 5 at Bookmaker Sportsbook.
The Bruins have been the better team at 5-v-5 in every game of this series and the best part about it is that they found some secondary scoring and some help for the top line. Taylor Hall has had a huge a series and a really strong postseason for Boston. He had a primary assist in Game 3 and his line generated a lot of offense throughout the game.
What Boston needed coming into these playoffs was some help for Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. They’ve gotten it and suddenly look a whole lot deeper and a whole lot more dangerous.
That being said, it was the Islanders that had the better scoring chances in overtime and Tuukka Rask was equal to the task to preserve the tie game until the Bruins could score the game winner just over three and a half minutes into overtime. It was the defensive game that we all expected throughout and Rask was big with 28 saves in the winning effort.
Rask has stopped 242 of the 259 shots that he has faced so far this postseason. He’s got a strong .934 SV% and a terrific 1.93 GAA in eight games. The Bruins have played very well in front of him and have carried the play at full strength, so they’ve been able to be aggressive and trust him to make the necessary saves. It was a big bounce back effort after his worst effort of the playoffs in Game 3.
New York Islanders
The Islanders made a lot of really good adjustments from Game 1 to Game 2 and it gave them the chance to come away with a 4-3 win in overtime. They played well enough to steal Game 3, but came up on the short end. The Islanders deserved a better fate than trailing 1-0 after the first period, but were outplayed for long stretches throughout the rest of the game at 5-v-5.
Both teams wound up with nine high-danger chances, two of which came in overtime for the Islanders, but they couldn’t seal the deal. Boston held a 33-26 edge in scoring chances at 5-v-5 and the Islanders were outshot 26-12 at 5-v-5 over periods two and three, despite the game-tying goal from Matthew Barzal. It feels like the Islanders are doing what they can with less skill and less speed, but it may not be enough overall.
Semyon Varlamov had another good game and we should see Barry Trotz go back with him in Game 4. Ilya Sorokin was the savior of the first round, but Trotz went back to Varlamov in Game 2 of this series and then went with him again in Game 3. He stopped 39 of 41 shots in the game, but the game-winning goal came from a bad angle and is one that he’d certainly like to have back.
Varlamov now has a 2.83 GAA and a .923 SV% in his four games in these playoffs. He’s only 1-3, but has only really played bad in one game when he allowed five goals on 27 shots. He’s played well in this series and the Islanders seem to have confidence in both goaltending options. They just need to figure out ways to put the puck in the net and sustain consistent offense.
Bruins vs. Islanders Free Pick
The Islanders stole one a little bit in Game 2 that gave them life in the series, but the line movement on Boston suggests once again that the Bruins are the right side and it is very hard to argue that point. Rask has been reliable. The Bruins top line has had a lot of success and some of the in-season trades have created a lot more depth, which makes it tougher to match up against Boston, even with the last change.
This should be another tight game, but Boston gets the edge.
Pick: Boston Bruins