NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction for Lightning vs. Islanders Game 3: Why New York Has Value on Home Ice (Thursday, June 17)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction for Lightning vs. Islanders Game 3: Why New York Has Value on Home Ice (Thursday, June 17) article feature image
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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: New York Islanders.

  • Nassau Coliseum plays host to Game 5 of the Tampa Bay-New York series with things tied at two games a piece.
  • The Islanders have one of the best home arenas, but home ice has been proven to not be nearly as important as years past.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down why he, however, thinks the home crowd may push the Islanders over the top.

Lightning vs. Islanders Game 3 Odds

Lightning Odds -152
Islanders Odds +132
Over/Under 5
Time Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
TV USA
Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings

The Islanders and Lightning will head into Game 3 at Nassau Coliseum with the series tied at 1-1 after two very differing contests in Tampa. Will the form of New York in the series opener return at their home confines, or did Tampa find something in Game 2 that it can replicate on the road?

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Tampa Flipped The Script In Game 2

Game 1 of the series saw the Islanders skate very true to their identity, doing an excellent job of controlling Tampa’s immense collection of skill on route to a very sound and deserved 2-1 victory.

The Islanders owned an 8-2 lead in odd man rushes in Game 1 and limited Tampa to two powerplay opportunities, certainly both huge positives in controlling the defending champs.

In Game 2 we saw a different story, particularly from Tampa’s deadly top line of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. The trio combined for five points and were notably better at 5-on-5 than in the first contest, finishing with an xGF% of 78.3 at even strength. Kucherov continued to display his lethal playmaking abilities, with his three assists in the contest now bringing him up to a total of 22 points so far this postseason, including two very pretty dishes on Palat’ and Point’s important tallies.

Top to bottom we saw more urgency from the Lightning in Game 2, and they were the better team in the contest.  Yet I still have to feel that many must be surprised in how closely played the first two games were, with the Islanders owning an xGF % of 54.40 combined and leading in high danger scoring chances for 17-15.

The ridiculous playmaking and scoring ability of the Bolts throughout can make up for that margin easily, as well as the spectacular play of netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, but my point is simply that the Isles have been with the Lightning step for step and certainly appear positioned to be an extremely tough out for the defending champs.

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Islanders Head Home To Raucous Arena

It may feel a little bittersweet to head home with the split after a very sound Game 1 victory, but you have to believe anybody within the Islanders organization would happily have taken that result coming home to what has been an amazing crowd at the Nassau Coliseum so far this postseason.

Last change could serve well for Barry Trotz, with the hopes to pair his ridiculously good top defensive unit of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech on Tampa’s deadly top trio of Kucherov, Point and Palat. The duo was imperative in limiting Boston’s exceptional top unit last series to modest offensive totals.

The support behind that top duo has been exceptional as well, however, and although I can not argue Trotz’ genius, I have to feel that he is skating an exceptional defensive core out right now, although the success clearly goes hand in hand.

It seems a ton of assumptions have been routinely made about this Islanders group, who have progressed steadily each year under coach Trotz. This playoff it seems to me that the biggest one has related to their style of play and or inability to score goals.

So far in this postseason the Islanders have put up 3.36 goals per game, good for the highest average of remaining playoff teams. The addition of Kyle Palmieri has worked tremendously, and he has proven with his seven tallies so far to be worthy of what many (myself included) felt was a steep deadline price.

I will be very surprised to see Trotz’ group take the same number of penalties here in Game 3, even if that number was just a by-product of what happens when this deadly Bolts team is doing a better job of creating chances. The Isles did, however, skate even to Tampa special teams wise in Game 2, holding the Bolts to a 1-for-5 conversion rate on the powerplay.

If they are to stay close special teams wise or at least limit Tampa’s absurd unit to something much lower than the 39.5% mark they have put up so far this postseason, it would go a long way to getting a better result than the Isles saw last season in the East Final.

J.G. Pageau is day-to-day after leaving midway through Game 2 and definitely would be a massive loss to the Isles as he has been excellent in all areas of the ice so far this postseason.


Betting Analysis & Pick

The Islanders seem to have entered the postseason as an afterthought to many, and that narrative continues to play out with the closing odds we have seen. It didn’t help that the group appeared out of sorts heading into the postseason, but historically that has indicated little to nothing, and the Islanders are a good example of that.

Strictly looking at their play this postseason, they certainly deserve to be here and have shown well enough to be considered a legitimate threat to a spectacular Lightning team.

Altogether this postseason the Islanders own a record of 9-5 and have been the most profitable team so far. The Isles have closed as an underdog in 12 of those contests and near pick-em in the other two.

New York has followed up their ridiculous 21-4-3 regular season home record with a 4-2 mark so far in this postseason, including massive 4-1 and 6-2 victories in Games 4 and 6 of the Boston series, altogether good for a goal differential of +10.

I have consistently been an advocate for backing road teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs, as altogether looking at a scope of the entire league, no data suggests that home ice advantage is much of a real thing, and road prices in turn hold more value on average.

However, the numbers are there to indicate the home ice advantage for this Islanders group, and it seems reasonable to conclude that Nassau Coliseum does provide a notable boost.

Most likely I think that we still see these games in New York split evenly and head back to Tampa 2-2. The odds for exact score after four games to be 2-2 sit at -110, and I certainly see value there believing that we see it play out as a split much more often than the 52.4% implied probability of the line.

With the idea in mind that the Islanders have a great chance to get one here at home, I have to say that I see the value play for this contest being the Islanders due to their price of +125, skating as a heavy underdog in a building in which they have thrived all season long.

Pick: New York Islanders (+125)

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