Will the Philadelphia Flyers close the show tonight and win their first NHL playoff series since 2012? It all comes down to this: Canadiens vs. Flyers Game 5.
The betting line says yes at major NJ online sportsbooks. Philadelphia enters the 8:05 p.m. contest with a commanding 3-1 series lead in its best-of-seven set against the Montreal Canadiens.
One more win puts them in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Canadiens vs. Flyers Game 5 odds
Here’s how the odds line up for Wednesday’s Canadiens-Flyers Game 3 (odds as of 11:30 p.m. ET Aug. 18):
|Game 5: 8:05 p.m. EST,|
|Puck line||+1 (-148)|
|Over/under||O 5 (-103)|
U 5 (-120)
|O 4.5 (-175)|
U 4.5 (-140)
|O 5 (-105)
U 5 (-115)
The power of goaltending
The Hart of the matter (see what we did there?) is that goaltending has carried this group.
Carter Hart has been the best netminder in the league during the first round of the playoffs. The Flyers goalie has notched two consecutive shutouts, joining only Bernie Parent (1975) and Michael Leighton (2010) to record this feat for Philadelphia.
Hart singlehandedly stole a couple of these first-round games and has shown magic reminiscent of Parent, the last Flyers goalie to lead them to a Stanley Cup in 1974-75.
Canadiens vs. Flyers betting nuggets
Wednesday night’s Canadiens vs. Flyers game means a lot to DraftKings Sportsbook patrons who took the Flyers to win the series in five games at +335.
Philadelphia also returns +500 to win in six and +450 for seven games. These odds were noted before the series because the Flyers were staunch favorites of nearly 3-1 across all New Jersey online sportsbooks.
The best shot at trying to nail series money was hitting the exact length of it. Taking the Flyers in a block of games — five and six, for example — gave bettors two chances to obtain a smaller yet still handsome payday.
Defense wins championships
The “under” has enjoyed a party in this series.
Every game has landed below the prop total, which has usually been 5.5. Fox Bet took the extraordinary step of listing tonight’s over-under at 4.5.
There have been 11 goals scored in four games, fewer than three per contest. That’s both teams combined.
Attribute that to the Flyers wanting to neutralize the speed of the faster Canadiens. They have played a tighter-checking, more conservative game, especially in the neutral zone.
Philadelphia has won all three of its games this way. Montreal’s lone victory was a freewheeling 5-0 triumph in Game 2.
Montreal has not scored a goal in an astounding 129 minutes and 25 seconds — or midway through the third period in Game 2, or last Friday.
Flyers offense is lagging, but does it matter?
Before yesterday, the Flyers had set an NHL record by having a 2-1 series lead despite having scored only three goals in the first three games. Philadelphia triumphed 2-1 and 1-0, sandwiched around a 5-0 blitzing by the Canadians in Game 2.
The Flyers have scored five goals in the four games of this matchup. A team should be losing a series with those numbers. But instead, the Flyers have a stranglehold on this one.
It’s been tough for most gamblers to collect on Philadelphia for individual games. The Flyers have been substantially favored on the moneyline.
In the more attractive 1.5 goals line, in which they must win by two goals, Philadelphia is 1-3 covering that bet. That cover came in Game 4.
Canadiens vs. Flyers Game 5 intangibles
Montreal players were frustrated by media questions concerning how they went from a 5-0 Game 2 victory to back-to-back shutouts.
They looked uptight. How are they going to respond to a win-or-go-home situation?
The Flyers are 6-1 during the NHL restart, including seedings-round victories over league stalwarts the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the six wins, they have allowed an amazing — get ready for this — four goals.
They have only allowed more than one goal one time in the entire restart. That’s how a series and a Stanley Cup can be won.
Power outage: Flyers need a big scorer
The team’s biggest weakness is its league-worst 1-for-28 performance on the power play during the restart.
Philadelphia sorely needs the presence of an Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals star who led the league with 48 goals. The Flyers had more players over 20, but none over 25.
They don’t have a prolific scorer.
Looking behind the power-play numbers, Philadelphia did show some passion in its last two power-play opportunities and nearly scored on Tuesday.
Why they have struggled
The Flyers are pressing. Ivan Provorov is effective at getting them into the offensive zone on the power play, but the Flyers are waiting too long for the perfect opportunity.
They are taking precious few shots from the slot. They have to fire the puck on goal more quickly. That would at least lead to some rebound chances.
Flyers players who are due to score
The Flyers had four players with more than 20 goals during the regular season. But they have seen no playoff goals from their leaders, including Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux.
On the DraftKings line for Game 5, Hayes is +295 to score, Giroux is +265, Konecny is +250 and Couturier is +240. Jakub Voracek, who has two goals in the series, is +389.
They would be attractive to isolate in a prop, as well as getting a goal in a Flyers victory.
Canadiens-Flyers best bets: thinking outside the box
The Canadiens will have to play desperate hockey. They have been bolstered by Carey Price, who is an excellent goaltender.
But they will have to take more chances than in Games 3 and 4 and probably leave themselves more vulnerable.
In four games, there has never been a first period in which both teams scored.
That prop has chances, and the yes is +270 at DraftKings. The Flyers have scored in the first period in three of the four games.
Things are falling into place beautifully for the Flyers.
By virtue of having the No. 1 seed, they will play the lowest-ranked survivor of the three other playoff rounds. They will be rooting hard for the New York Islanders to bounce the Capitals.
The Isles lead the series three games to one and had a 2-0 lead last night in Game 4, but they lost 3-2.
Seeing the Capitals knocked out would be welcome news for the Flyers.