The New York Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins 6-2 Wednesday night at home to close out the best-of-seven, second-round series in six games. The Islanders won the last three games to take control. They advance to the semifinals to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes in their second-round series.The Islanders suffocated the Bruins with strong team defense backed by goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who won four of five starts in the series. New York is a deep team that doesn’t rely on one key scorer. On Wednesday night, the star was Brock Nelson, who tallied two goals. The Bruins got a pair of power-play goals from Brad Marchand, but two empty-net goals by the Islanders ended any hopes of a comeback. Tampa will be powered by Nikita Kucherov, who leads all playoff scorers with 18 points, while Steven Stamkos gives Tampa a 1-2 punch. The Isles will again rely on balanced scoring.
Free Picks: Islanders vs. Bruins, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 2
Series Results: Islanders wins series 4-2
The Islanders suffocated the Bruins with strong team defense backed by goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who won four of five starts in the series. New York is a deep team that doesn’t rely on one key scorer. On Wednesday night, the star was Brock Nelson, who tallied two goals. The Bruins got a pair of power-play goals from Brad Marchand, but two empty-net goals by the Islanders ended any hopes of a comeback. Tampa will be powered by Nikita Kucherov, who leads all playoff scorers with 18 points, while Steven Stamkos gives Tampa a 1-2 punch. The Isles will again rely on balanced scoring.
May 29, 08:00 p.m., TD Garden
Taylor Hall made a big impact on the Boston Bruins since he was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on April 12. The New York Islanders lost all three games to the Bruins after the Hall acquisition. He is someone who the Islanders will have to pay a lot of attention to in the second round.
The NHL odds favor the Bruins and why not? They are so talented throughout the lineup. Hall has transformed Boston’s second line in the short time he has been with the Bruins. Hall scored four goals against the Islanders in the three games (all victories) he played against them during the regular season.
Center David Krejci contributed five assists and right wing Craig Smith chipped in two goals. That line combined for 11 points, including six goals, in the three games.
For my Free Picks and predictions, I.m going with the Bruins, playing at home.
The Islanders won all five regular-season games against the Bruins before the Hall acquisition, outscoring Boston 18-8. Those Bruins relied heavily on the No. 1 line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
Boston has been on fire since the Hall trade. They went 12-4-1 and increased their scoring from 2.72 goals a game to 3.41 goals a game. They continued that pace when they defeated the Washington Capitals in five games in Round 1.
The Islanders are coming off a six-game series win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. And a big reason why the Islanders advanced is that they were able to bottle up Pittsburgh’s No. 1 line of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. Crosby and Guentzel each scored only one goal and Rust had two.
The Islanders have strong goaltending in Ilya Sorokin (.943 save percentage) and Semyon Varlamov (.903 save percentage) and a strong No. 1 defense pairing of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. The Bruins have stability in goal with Tuukka Rask, who has a .941 save percentage in the playoffs.
On the injury front, Boston defenseman Kevan Miller has been recovering from a suspected head injury after he was hurt in the opening round of the playoffs on May 21 against Washington and won’t be available for Game 1.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said that forward Oliver Wahlstrom is still doing some rehab and the Islanders forward is listed as day-to-day.
For my top picks, the safest bet is taking the Islanders on the Puck Line (+1.5) with 10Bet (-195) because the implied odds suggest the Islanders have a 66% chance of covering. Or the Bruins on the Money Line (-195, 10Bet).
If you think the Islanders have a better chance at winning Game 1, this bet will have the biggest reward on the main markets (bet $100 to win $155).
The Under (5.5) would seem to be the lean (+101, 10Bet) on total goals because Game 1 is usually a time for feeling each other out, and the goalies are so strong on both sides. But the Over (-127, 10Bet) is actually a safer bet, according to the odds.
Game 2 (Bruins lead series 1-0)
May 31, 07:30 p.m., TD Garden
In front of a crowd of 17,400 at TD Garden, David Pastrnak scored three goals to lead the Bruins to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday. The Bruins have a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven, second-round series, with Game 2 on Monday back in Boston.
Pastrnak is heating up, and that’s going to be a problem for the Islanders. The Boston forward has five goals in his last three games. He was held without a goal in the first three games of Boston’s first-round series against the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins have won five straight games. Teams that win Game 1 are 495-224 (68.8%) winning a best-of-seven NHL playoff series, including 5-2 in the first round this season.
Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin, who made 35 saves, lost for the first time in five playoff starts and had an .897 save percentage. For Boston, Tuukka Rask made 20 saves (.909 save percentage) as the Bruins had a huge 40-22 advantage in shots on goal.
Anthony Beauvillier continues to run hot for New York, scoring in his third straight game.
On the injury front, Bruins forward Craig Smith left the game at 1:20 of the third period with a lower-body injury. For the Islanders, forward Oliver Wahlstrom missed his second straight game.
For my BetPicks, I am looking at the three main markets: Puck Line, Money Line and Total goals.
When I’m making my NHL predictions, I sometimes try to project a score. I see Boston winning 4-2 because the Islanders’ scoring tends to go cold and they have only one line that is running hot. Until the No. 1 line of Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle and Leo Komarov start scoring, I’m leaning toward Boston.
Money Line: The NHL odds favor Boston (-195, 10Bet) and that’s an expensive bet to take at almost twice your potential payout (bet $195 to win $100). But it is the safest bet on the board. Boston is 5-0 SU in their last five games.
If you like the Islanders to bounce back, the rewards and risk are high (+155, 10Bet). But go with a small-unit play because the Islanders are 1-4 SU in their last five games against Boston.
Puck Line: Making a bet for Boston (-1.5) on the Puck Line (+147, 10Bet) comes with the most risk on this market. The implied odds suggest they have only a 40% chance of covering the spread, but after what they did in Game 1, this might be the best value. A safer bet is taking New York (+1.5) on the Puck Line (-188, 10Bet).
Total goals: The Under (5.5) is the safer bet (-149, 10Bet), but with Boston’s firepower, I’m thinking the Over (+117) has a better chance of cashing. But this needs a small unit play since the total has gone Under in five of Boston’s last seven games.
Game 3 (series ties 1-1)
June 3, 07:30p.m., Nassau Coliseum
In the playoffs, you have to be lucky to be good, and the Islanders were certainly lucky in Game 2. Casey Cizikas scored on a Bruins turnover at the blue line in overtime. It was his first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2015.
The series is tied 1-1 going in Thursday’s Game 3. Boston won the first game 5-2.
The Islanders are still the underdog. They were the No. 4 seed in the East, while the Bruins were the No. 3 seed. The Islanders have been outshot 82-61 in the first two games.
For my BetPicks, I am looking at the three main markets: Puck Line, Money Line and Total goals.
When I’m making my NHL predictions, I sometimes try to project a score.
I see New York winning 4-2 because they are so good at home, where they lost only four games during the regular season. None of those losses came against the Bruins. And the Islanders are expected to have 12,000 fans in the building on Thursday, which would be their largest crowd of the season to give them an added boost.
The Islanders also have the edge in goal. They can go to either Ilya Sorokin (.897 save percentage) or Semyon Varlamov (.929 save percentage), who won Game 2 by outplaying Tuukka Rask (.897 save percentage). The Bruins have to hope fatigue doesn’t take away from the performance of Rask because they are going with him all the way.
Varlamov went 5-1-0 against Boston during the regular season. He’s a veteran and not scared of these big games. I think this series goes six or seven games, and I think the Islanders win at least one of the following two games at home. If they win both and take a 3-1 series lead, the Bruins are finished.
Money Line: The NHL odds favor Boston (-135, 10Bet). It is one of the safest bets on the board. But since I’m calling for the Islanders to win Game 3, I think taking New York (+110, 10Bet) Straight Up gives you the best balance of risk and safety with the implied odds of 47% in favor of the Islanders winning.
Puck Line: The safest bet on the main markets is taking New York (+1.5) with the Puck Line (-268, 10Bet) with implied odds of 73% that they either win or keep their loss to one goal.
But if you think Boston can win by at least two goals, taking Boston (-1.5) on the Puck Line (+203, 10Bet) will give you the biggest reward (bet $100 to win $203). But go with a small-unit play because this comes with the highest risk with implied odds of only 33%.
Game 4 (Bruins lead series 2-1)
June 5, 07:15 p.m., Nassau Coliseum
The Boston Bruins are in the driver’s seat having gone up 2-1 in the series and I have questions about the New York Islanders. I picked them to win in Game 3 and they lost in overtime.
This series is so close, it could be a coin flip. But I think Boston has the edge now. I know Islanders fans will remind me that New York was down 2-1 in their first-round series against Pittsburgh and bounced back to win the next three to win the series in six games.
But the Penguins are not the Bruins. These Bruins are getting better as the series goes on. And although there were questions surrounding the health of goalie Tuukka Rask, he dismissed those concerns with his spectacular play in Game 3.
Meanwhile, although Semyon Varlamov was great in net for the Islanders, he continued to allow early goals, which puts the Islanders in a hole off the bat.
And the goal by Brad Marchand in overtime should never go in against a top-flight goaltender. Ilya Sorokin is the better choice for Game 4, as far as I’m concerned.
The other issues involving the Islanders is the failure of their No. 1 line to mount much offense. Mathew Barzal scored his first goal of the playoffs on Thursday. Look at the Bruins. Marchand already has five playoff goals and two overtime winners.
When I’m making my BetPicks free picks, I sometimes try to project a score. I see the Bruins winning on Saturday 3-1. The Bruins have a 123-90 advantage in shots on goal in the three games and have outscored New York 10-7.
Those implied odds of 59% are exactly what my model projects, so unless this line moves substantially, I would stay away from a Straight Up bet for Boston. The Islanders are (+120) with 10Bet on the Money Line, which gives you a better payout (bet $100 to win $120). A little risky, but you have to believe more than I do in the Islanders now to make this bet.
The NHL game odds have made the Bruins the favorite (-1.5) on the Puck Line (+181, 10Bet), and that’s a better play because I think the Bruins have a good chance of winning by at least two goals. It’s the riskiest play on the board, so go lightly here.
The safest bet is taking the Islanders (+1.5) on the Puck Line because the implied odds suggest a 70% chance of New York either winning or keeping the margin of loss to one goal. Take this bet if you believe the Islanders will rebound at home, where they have been strong all year.
On the Over/Under, I’m leaning toward the Under (5.0) with 10Bet (+101) because the total has gone Under in six of Boston’s last nine games. The Over (-128) is a safer play with 10Bet, but just slightly.
Game 5 (series tied 2-2)
June 7, 06:30 p.m., TD Garden
Mathew Barzal is a big reason why the Islanders have tied the series 2-2 with the Bruins. He assisted on the tying goal in the second period and then broke a 1-1 deadlock with 6:57 remaining in regulation to help the Islanders complete the comeback. Two of the final goals went into an empty net.
Without Barzal’s performance, the Islanders would have gone down 3-1 in the series going back to Boston, and this would have been a death sentence.
Barzal has now scored in two straight games after being held without a goal for the first eight games of the postseason. And the Islanders have now won in come-from-behind fashion in each of their last four victories during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves for the Islanders while Tuukka Rask made 30 saves for Boston. The Islanders were the better team in the third period, when they outshot the Bruins 13-8.
Following the pattern set so far in this series, I expect it will be Boston’s turn to win on Monday. No team has lost two in a row in this series. A win has always been followed by a loss. The Bruins have not lost two in a row since April, so my money is on them winning in front of their hometown fans in Game 5.
I’ve been bitten by going against the Islanders in Game 4, but I’m not changing my mind. I still think Boston is the better team with more clutch performers. And they have controlled the series for the most part, outshooting New York 152-124. Game 4 was the only game when the Islanders had a shot advantage.
The Bruins (-1.5) are the favorites in the NHL playoff odds for Game 5 on the Puck Line (+140) with 10Bet. The Islanders (+1.5) are (-179) underdogs, and that’s the bet to take if you want to bet Against The Spread (ATS). It’s one of the safest bets on the board.
The safest bet of all is taking Boston (-185) Straight Up with 10Bet. That number has implied odds of 65%, so that’s a bit more expensive than I would like. But if you’re a believer in the Islanders and want to bet the underdog, taking the Islanders (+145) with 10Bet will get you the best payout (bet $100 to win $145). Go lightly here if you want to take on some risk.
On Total goals, I’m betting the Under (5.5) with 10Bet (-159) because the Under has cashed two games in a row, and I see a continuation of the hard-hitting, tight-checking style between these fierce rivals. The Over (5.5) is a little more risky (+125) with 10Bet. But it pays out more too.
Game 6 (Islanders leads series 3-2)
June 9, 07:30 p.m., Nassau Coliseum
The Boston Bruins blew a chance to go up 3-2 in the series with the New York Islanders at home on Monday night. Instead, they lost 5-4 and now go to New York down 3-2 to the Islanders with their season on the line.
The Bruins were undisciplined, taking too many penalties, and the Islanders capitalized by scoring on their first three power plays to essentially put the game away. The Islanders finished 3-for-4 with the man advantage and are 9-for-31 (29%) in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
The other problem that has emerged for Boston is in goal. Tuukka Rask has been battling a nagging injury and he was clearly not himself in Game 5.
He was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots in the second period. You need strong goaltending, especially in an elimination game, and the Rask situation puts the Bruins’ season in doubt. Asked about Rask’s status for Game 6, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said: “I assume he’ll be ready.” Jeremy Swayman is the back-up.
Semyon Valamov (.909 save percentage) was steady as Boston poured it on in the third period, outshooting the Islanders 18-3 in the final frame.
This is a tall task now for Boston. They looked like the stronger team earlier in the series and I picked them to win Game 5. But I just don’t see them beating New York two games in a row now. I think the Islanders are in the driver’s seat, needing to win only one of the final two games of this series.
The Islanders are home. They are strong in goal and getting production from their best player, Mathew Barzal, who scored for the third straight game.
For my BetPicks, I like to project a score, and I see a tight battle in Game 6 as Boston will no doubt bring their best effort of the series. But I see the Islanders winning 4-3.
For my Picks and predictions, I am looking at the Money Line, Puck Line and Over/Under markets. These NHL odds have the Bruins (-1.5) favored on the Puck Line (+195) with 10Bet on the early lines. I’m not willing to take that bet. Too risky.
But for my money, the best value is taking the Islanders Straight Up (+110) with 10Bet. Those implied odds give them a 47% chance of winning, and I think the actual odds are higher. Bet Boston Straight Up (-135, 10Bet) if you think the Bruins will push this series to Game 7.
I also like New York (+1.5) Against The Spread (-257), although that is an expensive play at almost three times your potential payout (bet $257 to win $100). So go lightly here.
The Over/Under has been set at 5, and that’s why I like the Over (-128, 10Bet) rather than the Under (+101). With Boston’s goaltending looking uncertain, and with so much on the line, I think we see some goals.
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I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.