NHL Odds, Pick, Preview for Islanders vs. Lightning Game 2: Back New York as a Heavy Underdog (Tuesday, June 15)

NHL Odds, Pick, Preview for Islanders vs. Lightning Game 2: Back New York as a Heavy Underdog (Tuesday, June 15) article feature image
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Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mathew Barzal (center).

  • After a sensational Game 1 win, the Islanders look to take a shocking 2-0 series lead back to Long Island.
  • Mathew Barzal starred as the Isles stymied the NHL's best attack, with the Lightning managing one late power-play goal.
  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down the betting value in Game 2 in Tampa Bay, delivering his analysis and pick below.

Islanders vs. Lightning Odds

Islanders Odds +165
Lightning Odds -195
Over/Under 5 (-136 / +112)
Time Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds updated Tuesday afternoon and via DraftKings

The New York Islanders are used to the underdog role, and they seem to relish in it.

The Isles opened as substantial underdogs against both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and those teams are now on the golf course. To the surprise of nobody, New York was a substantial underdog prior to this semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well.

However, the Isles played a near perfect game on the road in Tampa Bay and came away with a 2-1 win in Game 1. The Isles kept the Lightning off the scoresheet until the final minute of the game and did a terrific job of slowing down one of the league’s best offenses.

Based on the current line for Game 2, oddsmakers are expecting the Lightning to even the series at home. For all intents and purposes, it’s a huge game for Tampa Bay, which doesn’t want to head to the Nassau Coliseum down 2-0.

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What We Learned In Game 1

Hang it in the louvre.

Head coach Barry Trotz’s Islanders could not have possibly expected a better performance in Game 1 of this series. These teams played in the conference finals last season in the bubble, and Tampa Bay took Game 1 by a score of 8-2. Safe to say history did not repeat itself.

When adjusted for score effects, the Isles had a 2.76-1.78 advantage in terms of expected goals at 5-on-5. New York generated more high-danger chances than Tampa Bay. The Isles did not allow the Lightning a single scoring chance off the rush, posting a 9-0 advantage in that category.

The Isles’ best, and potentially only, chance in this series is if almost all of it is played at 5-on-5. For the most part, they did a tremendous job of staying out of the box in the opener.

The Lightning had just two power plays in Game 1. Unsurprisingly, Tampa’s only goal came on the power play with Andrei Vasilevskiy pulled for an extra attacker to create a 6-on-4 skating advantage in the final minute. The Lightning are converting on over 43% of their man-advantage opportunities. In fact, 41% of Tampa Bay’s goals in these playoffs have come on the powerplay.

With star players like Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, it’s no surprise that the Lightning’s power play is so dangerous. Many expected Tampa Bay’s elite talent would end up being the main difference in this series and ultimately propel it to a win. While this may still end up being the case, it was actually the Isles’ star player who was most noticeable in Game 1.

Mathew Barzal opened the scoring for the Isles in Game 1, and he now has four goals in his last five games after going without a goal in the first eight games of the postseason. Barzal was on the ice for both of New York’s goals in the series opener. In addition to his goal, he was noticeable throughout the night, including a play where he walked around one of the league’s best defensemen in Hedman. It seems like Lightning coach Jon Cooper tasked Hedman with shutting down Barzal, but the Isles had a 6-1 advantage in shots on goal when the two were on the ice together.

The Isles very rarely enter a game with a disadvantage when it comes to goaltending, but everyone who faces off against the Lightning enters with a disadvantage between the pipes. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy in four straight seasons, and he leads the playoffs in goals saved above expectation.

Vasilevskiy was solid in Game 1, stopping 29 of 31 shots but the game-winning goal would be considered soft by most. Ryan Pulock ripped an unscreened slap shot through Vasilevskiy, a shot that only goes in 2.5% of the time, according to MoneyPuck. However, the Tampa Bay netminder was outdueled by Isles’ goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who had a shutout through the first 59 minutes of Game 1 and ended up stopping 30 shots en route to the victory.

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Islanders vs. Lightning Best Bet

There isn’t going to be much of an appetite to bet on the Islanders in this spot, and I get that. For better or worse, there’s a mental block in spots like these and we consider what a certain result will mean for the series as a whole.

There’s a thought process that says the Islanders already “got theirs” in Game 1 and will be happy to head home with a split on the road. That same thought process can’t envision a world where the defending Stanley Cup champions fall down 2-0 at home.

If you’re of this mindset, I still wouldn’t bet on the Lightning to win this game individually. Tampa Bay was near -300 in some spots to win this series prior to Game 1. After the Lightning dropped the opener, you can currently find them at -115 to win the series.

If you think they win this game and even the series, I’d look towards betting on them to win the series at this shortened number. The Lightning will probably be substantial favorites in every game of this series, so if they even the series on Tuesday, you’ll be in a good spot moving forward.

However, for those of us bold enough to ignore the narratives and the noise, there’s once again value on the Isles.

Under Trotz, New York has mastered the art of turning games into coin flips, which makes it always worthy of a look as an underdog. The Islanders have been clinical in their last two games, giving Boston absolutely nothing at 5-on-5 in Game 6 and following that up with an even more impressive showing to shutdown Tampa in Game 1.

The Isles are comfortable being uncomfortable. While they were the better team in Game 1, that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, three times already in these playoffs they’ve won a game where they posted an expected goal rate under 35%. Call it luck, voodoo magic, or whatever else you want to call it. The Isles have been befuddling betting markets and statisticians for three years now.

Maybe they can do it again as heavy underdogs in Game 2. I’d go with the Isles at any price better than +160.

Pick: NY Islanders +175 (bet at +160 or better)

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