Islanders vs. Lightning Odds, Prediction, Preview: How to Bet Game 5 of Stanley Cup Semifinal (June 21)

Islanders vs. Lightning Odds, Prediction, Preview: How to Bet Game 5 of Stanley Cup Semifinal (June 21) article feature image
Credit:

Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Martin #17 (left) Casey Cizikas #53 (center), Cal Clutterbuck #15 (right)

Islanders vs. Lightning Game 5 Odds

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Islanders Odds +163
Lightning Odds -195
Over/Under 5 (-134/ +110)
Time Monday, 8 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Monday via DraftKings.

The New York Islanders just won’t go away.

The Isles tied the series at home in Game 4 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to force what is now, for all intents and purposes, a best-of-three sprint to decide which team is going to the Final.

Both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Semyon Varlamov are spectacular goaltenders who were in the Vezina Trophy discussion this season. However, it’s Ryan Pulock who has the save of the series to this point.

Ryan McDonagh found himself wide open in the face-off circle with under five seconds to go in Game 4. A nifty spin-o-rama move forced Varlamov out of the net, and it looked like McDonagh was going to tie the game and complete a three-goal, third period comeback for the Lightning. However, Pulock slid across the crease behind Varlamov and swept the puck off the goal line with his arm.

After that finish in Game 4, one has to begin to wonder whether the Islanders are the team of destiny in this year’s playoffs. Oddsmakers don’t seem to think so, however, as the Lightning are substantial favorites at home to take a 3-2 series lead in game five. Will the Islanders have something to say about that?

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What We’ve Learned So Far

If you look at the underlying metrics, the Isles have been the better team at 5-on-5 in this series. They have an 8.95 to 6.99 advantage in expected goals through the first four games, good for better than a 56% share in that category, and have generated 38 high-danger chances at 5-on-5 while the Lightning have just 29.

Just as important for the Isles as their 5-on-5 play is their ability to slow down the Tampa Bay powerplay. The best way to keep their powerplay off the board is to not take penalties, and the Isles have done a tremendous job in that regard for the most part.

In Game 2, the Isles struggled with discipline, giving the Lightning five opportunities with the man advantage. Unsurprisingly, the Lightning won that game comfortably and it was the least competitive game of the series. The Isles were never able to generate much and they were clearly thrown off the rhythm in their game that makes them so hard to deal with.

But in Games 1, 3 and 4, the Isles have given the Lightning just four powerplay opportunities combined. New York took two penalties in Game 1 and just one each in the last two games.

When the Lightning have gotten their opportunities, the Isles have actually done a decent job on the penalty kill. Tampa Bay has two powerplay goals on nine opportunities in the series. While 22% is not a bad conversion rate, it pales to the 43% rate that the Lightning were converting in the first two rounds.

Analyzing the Game-Breakers

Mat Barzal scored for the Isles in Game 4, giving him three goals in the first four games of this series. Going back to the second round, Barzal has six goals in his last eight playoff games. Barzal is clearly the Isles’ most talented forward, so him producing at this rate is a beautiful sight for Isles fans.

islanders vs lightning-game 2-odds-pick-prediction-preview-nhl-june 15-2021
Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mathew Barzal (center)

There was also an interesting wrinkle in Game 4, as Barry Trotz moved Kyle Palmieri to Barzal’s wing for most of the game and moved Leo Komarov to the third line. Palmieri is tied for the Isles’ team lead in goals in these playoffs with seven, while Komarov is yet to find the back of the net. It’ll be interesting to see if the change sticks in Game 5, as Palmieri certainly gives Barzal a more dangerous offensive weapon.

Another key for the Isles has been the play of their fourth line. Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck — known as “the identity line” — have been instrumental in setting the tone with their physical play and ability to wear opposing teams down through these playoffs. They’ve also contributed offensively the last two games, with Clutterbuck scoring in Game 3 and Martin scoring the game winning goal in Game 4.

For Tampa Bay, it’s their top line that have been the true difference makers.

Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov have been the focal point of the Lightning offense. Kucherov far and away leads all players in points in these playoffs with 24 — nobody else has more than 16. Point also leads the postseason with 12 goals, and the second-highest total is eight. He has goals in seven straight playoff games and he has goals in nine of his last 10 games.

Islanders vs. Lightning Pick

Despite their big win in Game 4, New York is a substantial underdog in Tampa Bay. This is nothing new for the Isles, as they’ve closed as underdogs in all 16 playoff games they’ve played to this point. Much to the chagrin of oddsmakers, the Isles have won 10 of those games.

This situation is also nothing new for the Isles, as it mirrors their first two rounds of these playoffs. Against Pittsburgh in Round 1 and Boston in Round 2, the Isles evened the series in Game 4 at home. In both series, they went on the road for Game 5 as substantial underdogs and ended up winning the game to bring a 3-2 series lead back home where they closed out the Penguins and Bruins.

Some might say the Lightning are a different animal as the defending champions. It’s hard to deny that, in all likelihood, they’re a better team than the Isles — the Lightning are just as deep, but they have better high-end talent and they have a small edge between the pipes. However, the Isles have skated right with the Lightning all series long.

When these teams played on Long Island on Saturday, the Isles closed as +110 underdogs. Two days later, the series shifts to Tampa Bay and the Isles have shot up to a +163 underdog. I’ve often been of the mindset that home-ice advantage is severely overrated in the playoffs, especially for elite teams like the Lightning. Their road winning percentage in these playoffs is actually better than their home winning percentage. The Lightning are 6-2 on the road in these playoffs and 4-3 at home.

It all comes down to the number, and +165 at PointsBet is simply too high for an Islanders team that has proven they can compete with this Lightning team. The Isles have been in this situation before in these playoffs, and they’ve come through on top. I’d take the underdog Isles at any price better than +150.

Pick: Islanders +165 (to +150)

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