The New York Islanders have responded well to adversity during the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they're facing a whole new beast entering Wednesday's Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Thanks to a short, five-game series with Boston, Tampa Bay came off a lengthy layoff refreshed and ready to rock in an 8-2 trouncing of New York in the Eastern Conference Finals opener. It'll be interesting to see if the Isles ever recover from that.
Explore the rest of abe Insights' betting preview to find the best odds pulled from all the major sportsbooks, a look at the main betting lines and how they should trend, stats to consider before wagering and additional information for tonight's face-off.
Date: Wednesday, September 9
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Islanders 40%; Lightning 62%
Spread: NYI +1.5 (-165); TB -1.5 (+165)
Moneyline: NYI +150; TB -162
Goalie play is so important in the playoffs, and it stands to reason Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss are both going through a confidence crisis following Game 1. Greiss got pulled after yielding three goals in the first period, and Varlamov let five by thereafter.
Despite the Lightning not having the same depth at that key spot, Andrei Vasilevskiy has proven he can handle the playoff load by himself. He made 22 saves in the series opener to improve to 11-3 with a 1.92 GAA this postseason.
26.59 vs. 22.19: These are the 5-on-5 scoring chances allowed per 60 minutes in the playoffs for New York and Tampa Bay respectively. The Bolts give up the lowest rate in this category among all teams despite their much larger sample size as one of few teams left standing, while the Isles place 15th out of 24, per Natural Stat Trick.
23.88 vs. 16.05: Next, we have the percentage of shots that result in high-danger scoring chances for each team. Tampa Bay has a massive edge here, ranking third among all postseason teams, whereas the Islanders are way down in 18th.
58.11 vs. 55.07: But one area where New York beats the Lightning in the Stanley Cup playoffs is percentage of goals off of scoring chances. Both clubs are in the top five, and this stat underscores how well each capitalize when presented with quality looks.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz is in a crease-guarding quandary when it comes to deciding between Greiss and Varlamov. Conventional wisdom suggests that the majority starter, Varlamov, will get the nod, but he's allowed 14 goals on his past 88 shots faced, which is hardly the form you want facing Tampa Bay's explosive attack.
There's just so much skill on the Lightning's side, and that's even without Steven Stamkos. Bolts forwards Brayden Point (two goals, three assists) and Nikita Kucherov (one goal, four assists) logged five points apiece in Game 1, which is mind-boggling to say the least. Tampa's power play also converted three of six opportunities.
Usually when the Isles have had their backs against the wall during these playoffs, it's been from out in front. This time around, they're trailing a series for the first time in 2020. Playing from behind against the Lightning is not where Trotz and Co. want to be.
One ray of hope to hold onto for New York is the fact that Tampa Bay won a marathon playoff opener against Columbus, but went on to lose the next contest. That's it. What also must happen for the Isles to have a shot tonight is they need to be more disciplined. They recorded 44 hits on the Bolts on Monday, but logged 22 penalty minutes.
If New York is playing less chippy in front of whoever is between the pipes, it should help to avoid cheap penalties and lengthy ice time with a man down. Even if the Lightning don't convert power plays, their quickness and skill becomes physically taxing for the opposition, as was evident in the first meeting.
Advocating for a team that just lost by six goals, even with the incredible run it took to get to this point, is a tough sell. The Islanders were no doubt exhausted from going the distance against the Flyers, but there's no rest for the weary in the postseason.
Bettors should be anticipating another shootout to push more action on the Over goal total, and look for the vast majority wagers to trend toward Tampa Bay's spread and moneyline.
Note: Odds current as of 1:50 p.m. ET on Wednesday, September 9.
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