Of the four teams remaining in contention, the NY Islanders had the longest Stanley Cup odds entering the season. The Islanders’ preseason moneyline sat at +3000, while the Lightning’s preseason odds to win the Stanley Cup were +675. Not many folks expected the Isles to be in the final four of the NHL Bubble. They have made it this far by demonstrating guts and perseverance, relishing the role of underdog.
However, the magical aura surrounding NY faded recently, having nearly blown a 3-1 series lead to Philadelphia. Fortunately for the Islanders, the Flyers came out flat in Game 7, and NY cruised to a 4-0 win.
Tampa Bay dominated its second-round series with Boston, winning four straight after getting nicked in Game 1. The Lightning got to rest a full week before being uncaged again. Tampa Bay was foaming at the mouth when the puck dropped in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Our sportsbook listed Tampa Bay as 1½-goal favorites entering the first contest, and the Lightning covered the spread three-fold. A sports betting dream, if you put money on Tampa Bay.
Eastern Conference Finals Schedule
Islanders vs Lightning; (TB leads 1-0)
Monday, Sept. 7. – Lightning 8, Islanders 2
Wednesday, Sept. 9 – Islanders vs Lightning, 8 p.m ET – NBCSN
Friday, Sept. 11 – Lightning vs Islanders, 8 p.m. ET – USA
Sunday, Sept. 13 – Lightning vs Islanders, 3 p.m. ET – NBC
Tuesday, Sept. 15 – Islanders vs Lightning, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Sept. 17 – Lightning vs Islanders, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Sept. 19 – Islanders vs Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC
The Lightning struck first in Game 1, scoring on an angling power move by Brayden Point on goalie Thomas Greiss. Point’s nifty goal came 1:14 into the game and was an omen of the pounding that was to follow. The Islanders put up a fight in the early going, tying the game on winger Jordan Eberle’s PP goal.
However, after Eberle’s goal, Lightning defensemen Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh each lit the lamp, ending Greiss’ night 10:46 in. Replacement goalie Semyon Varlamov didn’t do much better, yielding five more goals to Tampa Bay on 25 shots. By the time the final horn sounded, the Lightning had electrocuted the Islanders, scorching them by the score of 8-2. Domination is now spelled L-I-G-H-T-N-I-N-G. This total team collapse by the NY Islanders is a cause for concern.
New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning Recent Meetings
The Islanders’ goaltending duo has been spectacular this postseason, but are trending down of late. Varlamov lost his last two starts vs. the Flyers, making a seventh game necessary to eliminate Philadelphia. NY went with Greiss in goal, who pitched a shutout. The Islanders advanced, but the “hot hand” Greiss got torched for three goals in less than 10 minutes during Game 1. Greiss got the hook, only to watch Varlamov get smoked for five more goals. Perhaps the fatigue and game pressure are getting to Varlamov and Greiss.
Andre Vasilevskiy is playing better than he has in any postseason. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 11-3 with a 1.92 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Vasilevskiy seems locked in, winning five straight games while driving towards Stanley Cup glory. The Russian netminder has provided a solid base for this talented Tampa team to rally around. Don’t expect Vasilevskiy to slow down until he and his Lightning teammates have hoisted the Cup.
Odds to Win Series
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Islanders and Lightning entered the season with different expectations surrounding them. The Islanders were considered longshots to win the Stanley Cup, entering the preseason with 30-1 odds. The Lightning are an elite team, and were rated as such, posting a +675 moneyline.
Our current NHL betting odds show that Tampa Bay is the clear favorite, paying out even-money. Meanwhile, the Islanders (+1000) are still repping the longshots of the world. If NY can manage to upset the Lightning in this round, the person betting on that outcome would have a nice payday. Check out our most recent NHL Eastern Conference Betting Series Prices:
Prediction: Lightning in 5
Look, I’m as impressed by the Islanders’ postseason run as the next guy. However, the reality is that NY’s dynamic goaltending duo is falling apart. Not just Varlamov or Greiss, but both of them. It feels like one of these goalies might rebound, but Tampa Bay smells blood.
The Islanders will be fortunate to win one game. Tampa Bay is a machine and is dominating without second-leading scorer Steven Stamkos. Stamkos may be back in time for the Stanley Cup Finals, amping up the voltage for the Lightning. Dare I say that 2020 is finally Tampa Bay’s year? It certainly appears that way, and I’ve put my money where my mouth is.