The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning will meet in Game 1 of the best of seven Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night. The Islanders are coming into this series fresh off of their Game 7 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Tampa Bay Lightning will come into this one more rested, the last time they played was in Game 5 on August 31st.
A few players to keep your eyes on throughout the series are Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal for the Islanders while Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov are the leading Tampa Bay in points.Eastern Conference Final
New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
When: Monday, September 7
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBCS
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
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Prediction: I have taken the Islanders since the beginning of the playoffs and will continue to do so. They have not received enough credit for their play in these playoffs. Take the underdog Islanders (+130) on the ML and the under (5) in this game.
NHL Playoff Schedule
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 New York Islanders
Game 1: Monday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m. ET
Game 2: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m ET
Game 3: Friday, Sept. 11, 8 p.m. ET
Game 4: Sunday, Sept. 13, 3 p.m. ET
*Game 5: Tuesday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m. ET
*Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. ET
*Game 7: Saturday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET
NHL Odds and Betting Lines
NHL odds courtesy of BetMGM Sportsbook. Odds last updated Monday at 4:50 p.m. ET.
Philadelphia Flyers (-154) vs. New York Islanders (+130)
Over/Under: 5 O: – 121 U: 100
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The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders are not that different.
That may sound a bit hyperbolic since the Lightning have been a Stanley Cup Favorite for the entire year and the Islanders were considered a longshot even just a few weeks ago, but right now it’s true — these are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference at this moment.
As expected, the betting market is much more confident in the Lightning’s robust body of work compared to the gate-crashing Islanders. Tampa is a known commodity. The Bolts have the higher ceiling. They’ve been good for a long, long time. Bettors will never mind laying the wood with that type of team.That said, if you asked me to set the line for a potential Eastern Conference Final between the Lightning and Islanders, I would have put Tampa at -250. Not so fast.The Bolts are still chalky, but they are just -195 favorites to beat the Isles and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. It may not sound like it, but that number is a pretty big compliment to the Islanders.
The New York Islanders had a turbulent regular season. Coming off a surprising run to second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Islanders came out of the gates flying in 2019-20. The Islanders put together a 10-game winning streak and a 17-game point streak over the first two months of the season, but then the wheels came off, partly due to injuries to a couple of key players, most notably top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech.As hot as the Isles started the campaign, they were that cold heading into the hiatus. They lost their last seven games before the shutdown and, when the postseason format was announced, very few people gave them much of a chance.
It was hard to blame the skeptics: The Islanders were inconsistent over the 70-game regular season. The layoff did allow Pelech, Casey Cizikas and a couple of other role players get healthy, but even when healthy, this team was easy to gloss over.Turns out we should have been paying more attention.The Islanders have been one of the most impressive teams in The Bubble. The Isles sport a 57.1% expected goals rate, a +1.13 five-on-five goal differential per 60 minutes and a 1.89 expected goals against per hour in their 16-game Bubble Journey.
Barry Trotz’s defensive structure has made the Islanders hard to beat, but this isn’t a one-dimensional team right now. The Isles are still stifling in their own zone, but they are also creating a smorgasbord of quality scoring chances themselves.Their statistical profile in the postseason puts them in the same conversation as Vegas or Tampa Bay.
Despite being one of the NHL’s most fearsome juggernauts of the past several years, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been to only one Stanley Cup Final in the past 10 (2015). They’re hoping the tweaks made after last year’s debacle against the Columbus Blue Jackets can push them over the top. Meanwhile, the New York Islanders have taken steps forward in the second campaign under Barry Trotz, and while maintaining their stout defensive structure, they have amped up the scoring.