Well, it should be an interesting 24 hours in Boston. Either the city will be rejoicing again – in the wake of the Celtics’ win over the Cavs, which I missed on the side but hit on the LeBron props – or it will be drowning its sorrows if the Bruins become the third team in NHL history and fourth in North American major sports team history to blow a 3-0 series lead.
The line: Bruins -120/Flyers +110 (5)
Props: Player to score more points – Boston’s Miroslav Satan (Even) or Philly’s Simon Gagne (--130); first to three goals – Flyers +145, Bruins +145, Neither +210.
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How they got here: Really, I need to tell you? Of course the Bruins looked in complete command with that 3-0 lead, but ever since Simon Gagne returned the Flyers have been a different club. Philly has won the past three games by a combined 11-5. Only a last-minute goal in Game 6 with an empty net prevented the Bruins from getting shut out in back-to-back games.
Scouting report: The winner of this series, amazingly, gets home-ice advantage in the conference finals thanks to the amazing Montreal Canadiens.
For what it’s worth, of the past nine Game 7s in the NHL, the road team has won seven of those. Those Habs are 2-0 in that scenario this year. The Bruins haven’t been to the conference finals in 18 years and are 16-0 all-time when having a 3-0 lead in the series. This is only the second time ever the franchise has been extended to a Game 7 when taking that lead. Only two teams in NHL history have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, and the Flyers are the first team since the 1975 Islanders – the last team to pull the rabbit out of the hat down 3-0 – to even force a Game 7 after being down 3-0.
Gagne has been the difference in this series, as he has three goals and an assist in the three games since returning from injury. But the B’s obviously get the final line change tonight, so expect them to make sure hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara is on the ice any time Gagne is. The B’s also need to score first, as they haven’t since Game 4 – their last win. In addition, the Flyers have been playing with some desperation, blocking a whopping 30 shots in Game 6 in front of goalie Michael Leighton, who won his playoff debut in place of the injured Brian Boucher (out for the season). It appears that Boston is making a change to shake up its struggling offense. In the team’s most recent practice, coach Claude Julien promoted Blake Wheeler to the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Wheeler has scored a goal with five assists on 17 shots while averaging 14:17 in 12 playoff games.
The picks: The Bruins have not been good in Game 7s of late. They have lost the deciding game three times, twice in the first round to Montreal (2004, 2008) and last year in the conference semis against the Carolina Hurricanes. I recommended the B’s in Game 6 because they represented the best value. But now I say the same about the Flyers, who have all the momentum. And it’s clear that home ice means little in the NHL playoffs.
As for the player props, it’s interesting that the oddsmakers picked Satan. Well, maybe it isn’t. He hasn’t scored in three games, not coincidentally all those B’s losses. He had at least a point in the previous six games, including three multi-point games. Just out of value you have to with Satan here, as I can’t imagine Gagne gets much room. I don’t pretend to know who scores first but am willing to bet that whichever team does wins.
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