The Tampa Bay Lightning are the clear favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. Photo from @lightning_fanly (Twitter).
- The Tampa Bay Lightning face the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Final
- Game 1 of the series will be played Monday, September 7th at 8pm ET (5pm PT)
- Read below to see why the Lightning are primed to take an early lead in the series
New York will face Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final.
When players entered the bubble I thought Tampa Bay had a great chance of going deep. I wasn’t sure the Islanders needed to unpack their bags. Cinderella stories can be cute but can this version really pull off the upset and represent the East in the Stanley Cup final?
Islanders vs Lightning Game 1 Odds
|Team||Puck Line||Over/Under||Moneyline at DraftKings|
|New York Islanders||+1.5 (-230)||O 5 (-127)||+128|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-1.5 (+188)||U 5 (+105)||-148|
*odds taken Sep. 5th
I don’t like the Islanders chances in the series and frankly, I like their chances to win the opener even less. The most obvious reason is rest. Tampa Bay has been sitting waiting for their opponent, while New York was in a dog fight to get past Philadelphia. Beyond that, there are three other key reasons to pick the Lightning to win game one.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) September 6, 2020
Nikita Kucherov Cannot Be Stopped
The Lightning appear to have avoided an injury scare with Nikita Kucherov. He has returned to the ice and all indications are he will suit up in the series opener. He has tallied 16 points in 13 postseason games, including 12 at even strength. The Islanders may have a nice system and solid depth but it’s a stone-cold fact they don’t have anyone on the roster as talented as the reigning league MVP.
— Left Wing Lock (@Left_Wing_Lock) September 3, 2020
Kucherov has racked up all of these points without teammate Steven Stamkos who remains out of the lineup. The Islanders don’t have your traditional defense. They have great depth but no true superstar on the back end. Barry Trotz is a great coach but there may not be a correct answer when deciding which pairing to put against Kucherov. The reality is it’s advantage Tampa Bay either way.
Lightning Have Big Advantage In Goal
If you were starting a franchise today and could pick any goalie for your team you’d likely select Andrei Vasilevskiy. The 26-year old won the Vezina trophy last season and is nominated once again this year. He’s 10-3 in the post-season with a 1.91 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He is perhaps the best goalie on the planet and he’s at the top of his game. That’s a scary combination for an Islanders forward group short on skill.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 24, 2020
Vasilevskiy isn’t the only reason the Lightning have a big edge in goal. New York is dealing with a controversy after starter Semyon Varlamov was benched in favor of Thomas Greiss in game seven against the Flyers. Greiss earned a shutout in the victory and will likely get the start in game one. Vasilevskiy versus Greiss. Who are you banking on?
Bet Lightning on the Moneyline
The Islanders vs Lightning odds paint a clear picture. The more talented team is the more rested team and that has me comfortable laying the -148 odds. The matchup might indicate a riskier wager on the puck line but I always prefer to watch the opening game of a series before doing that. Stay somewhat conservative and bet Tampa Bay on the moneyline. If you win, roll your profits over to game two and get more aggressive after feeling things out a little bit.
The Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning Moneyline (-148)
Ryan has been working at TSN for over eleven years, and is now a lead writer and content producer at That’s Hockey. Over the years, he’s launched and hosted TSN’s first NCAAF podcast, The College Football Show, and been featured on the likes of TSN 1050, Sportscentre, and That’s Hockey 2Nite.