NHL Playoffs Odds, Preview, Prediction for Lightning vs. Islanders Game 6: Can New York Avoid Elimination? (June 23)

NHL Playoffs Odds, Preview, Prediction for Lightning vs. Islanders Game 6: Can New York Avoid Elimination? (June 23) article feature image
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Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Noah Dobson.

Lightning vs. Islanders Odds

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Lightning Odds -160
Islanders Odds +135
Over/Under 5
Time Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Tuesday and via PointsBet

The Tampa Bay Lightning came out and put on a show for a 78% capacity home crowd in Game 5 at Amalie Arena, emphatically dominating the Islanders on route to an 8-0 final. The Lightning now sit one game away from a return to the Stanley Cup Final and an opportunity to be just the second repeat Cup champion since 1999.

Game 4’s ending could certainly be seen as a tough break for the Bolts, as Isles defender Ryan Pulock made a stunning goal-line save on Ryan Mcdonagh’s spectacular play with just a couple seconds left on the clock.

Well, Tampa got that tough break back and then some in the first period of Game 5, as all 3 first-period goals came on very favorable redirections in a game that saw everything find the back of the Islanders’ net.

The Isles appeared to regroup after the first period and came out pushing feverishly in the second, but after some almost comical flurries stayed out of Tampa’s net, New York gave up the 4-0 goal before collapsing entirely on route to an 8-0 defeat.

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Trotz Has Done This Before

The Islanders will need to hold a short memory and get back to their game in order to avoid falling exactly five wins short of hoisting the cup, as they did last season, falling at the hands of this very same Tampa group.

Barry Trotz has again led this New York group deeper into the playoffs than many have expected, with his Islanders now holding five playoff series victories over his three-year tenure.

The Islanders now need to accomplish the same feat that Trotz’s 2018 championship Washington Capitals team did in order to attain a berth in the Stanley Cup Final: win back-to-back games against a Tampa Bay team that is realistically has to be viewed the best roster in hockey, regardless of whether you want to complain that its $98 million salary is fair.

With Trotz behind the bench the 2018 Capitals finished the Lightning off with 3-0 and 4-0 victories in Games 6 and 7, behind two spectacular team efforts defensively. That certainly holds no indication on this series, but I’m sure Trotz would love to suppress Tampa’s offense similarly and at least steal Game 6 to start.

Tampa Bay’s Attack Is On Fire

It comes as no surprise that Tampa Bay has cranked things up a notch this postseason, especially after seeing Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos return from injury in excellent form.

The top line of Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Kucherov continues to build on last season’s playoff success with even more absurd numbers this postseason. Behind them the trio of Steven Stamkos, Anthony Cirelli, and Alex Killorn is about as good a second line as this league has to offer.

Andrei Vasilevskiy has been superb between the pipes, and the Bolts’ power play has been out of this world so far.

There aren’t many flaws if any to nitpick with this Lightning team but if there’s a group that can maybe shock them, this Islanders bunch and their sweltering defensive play certainly are a viable option given the nature of playoff hockey.

New York has given the Lightning another tough series this year, likely more so than last year. But can the Islanders come up with a massive home win to avoid the same fate they saw in last season’s playoff bubble and force a game 7?

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Tampa were obviously the better team and rightfully won Game 5, but ultimately that result is only one game be it an 8-0 win or a 2-1 win. New York fell behind the 8-ball early, started chasing the game and cheating defensively against a team you simply cannot do that against.

To think that this Islanders team can regroup and find a way to play a much more disciplined and structured game defensively is very reasonable. If the Isles play to their strengths, I just can’t see much reason to back Tampa as such a large favourite given the way the series has gone and the way Game 6 will likely be contested.

People love to forget and pretend playoff hockey isn’t as much of a coin flip as it is, but the facts are when both teams play the game at such a high level, the margin between winning and losing becomes razor thin.

Analysts do love to come up with any number of reasons why a team found a way to get it done in the end when oftentimes one or two bounces can decide an entire series. This kind of thinking is certainly a big reason as to why we see several of the odds on favorites go out in “stunning” fashion every postseason, as ultimately the difference between success and failure is just way closer than most ever credit.

The Islanders have certainly been step for step with the Lightning in this series, with high-danger chances for sitting at 59 a piece, and with nearly a dead heat in expected goals with Tampa holding a 50.89% xG share.

Now, that number goes a little out the window when you talk about the kinds of chances Tampa Bay’s power play and elite forwards can create, but the point is that the overall play has been closer than many believe in this series. My point here is not to try to argue that this Islanders group actually hold notable advantages over this ridiculously talented Tampa Bay roster, but that if they play to their strengths this game will play more so as a coin flip than the betting number suggests.

There lies a good chance that the Islanders bring one of their best defensive performances here and that we see a very closely contested affair likely decided by one goal.

This is the kind of call that is either going to look brilliant when correct or horrific when wrong as there will be a flock of people questioning how you couldn’t back the powerhouse Lightning after dominating Game 5. But I see the value being with the Islanders in this one, and don’t mind the series line at +500 either.

If you really hate my thinking here please consider that my playoff record on The Action Network picks sit at 10-4 and +6.75 units, which I am sure comes with some luck, but I do believe some of these points with regards to how you should think about wagering on the NHL playoffs are accurate.

This line should even surpass the current +135 mark it sits at now since I do not believe many will come up with much reason to see a different result than in Game 5 and most of the money will probably come in on Tampa. So I don’t think there is a rush here, shop around and see what you can find closer to puck drop but anything better than +125 is playable for me.

Pick: Islanders +135 (play to +125)

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