As the semifinal round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs soldiers on, fans can now see the semifinal round almost ready to produce a Stanley Cup Finalist. In this article, we have our NHL bets pick for this Wednesday, June 23rd. Will the Tampa Bay Lightning go on the road and defeat the New York Islanders in Game 6? If they do, Tampa Bay would become the first Finalist.
Monday night saw complete and utter domination by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only did they beat the New York Islanders 8-0. That was no misprint. They went 3 for 6 on the man advantage. The Lightning got huge contributions from Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn. Both scored twice and Nikita Kucherov chipped in with three assists.
Now, the expected goals for Tampa Bay were extremely high in that first period. Yes, Tampa Bay let up a bit in the second and third periods but then again, three power-play goals and the score made the need to press much less. It also helped that the Islanders missed several chances to cut the deficit to two early in the second period. New York hit the post three separate times in one shift. Tampa then eventually went on to make it 4-0 and the rout was on.
In stark contrast to Games 3 and 4, Tampa Bay was able to draw six power-play opportunities. One power-play goal came from a cross-check by Mathew Barzal on Jan Rutta. That drew a major.
It had been 6-0 already. The Brayden Point power-play goal made it 7-0 early in the third period and Tampa Bay just coasted their way home to their easiest victory of the playoffs. This felt a little different than the 8-2 rout last year in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Final.
It is easy to see why the Tampa Bay Lightning are still decent road favorites for Game 6.
Ahead of Game 6, the NHL odds are out and they favor Tampa Bay. The Lightning has been listed between -150 and -165, while the New York Islanders are around +130 to +145. New York fans are hopeful that this is not the last playoff game ever played at Nassau Veterans Memorial Colosseum. This will not be easy, however, Tampa Bay has scored the last ten goals unanswered.
On the other hand, New York will point to that three-minute stretch to start the second period. The New York Islanders had plenty of opportunities. If the Islanders cannot get one by Andrei Vasilevskiy early, that will only let the Russian get in their heads a little further. New York has shown an ability to get multiple goals quickly. Vasilevskiy and Tampa Bay’s defense may need its best effort all series.
It comes down to the starts. Tampa Bay must again execute early, draw penalties, generate scoring chances on transition, etc. For all the shots at even strength early, they finally drew the minors some expected. Tampa Bay is not going to outshoot New York 42-21 again but the Lightning does need to control play for more than the final 15 minutes of Game 4.
For NHL Picks, our best bet on Wednesday night features taking Tampa Bay on the moneyline.
Tampa Bay should win Game 5 on Monday. One of the big reasons is the fact that Tampa Bay can quickly wipe or nearly wipe deficits off the board. New York can never let its guard down against Tampa Bay. It almost cost them the season in game 4.
Tampa Bay’s balance and thrust was that close to ending the New York season already.
Earlier this postseason, Tampa Bay had a bit of value for the NHL Stanley Cup title. Now, Tampa Bay and Vegas have been trading places as the Lightning are playing like the defending champions they are.
Once upon a time, the Lightning was +600 entering the postseason. Now, they hold even odds to be crowned repeat Stanley Cup champions.
Now, New York has shown an ability to bounce back from bad performances. They did in Game 4 after losing Games 2 and 3. The Islanders delivered that statement road win in Game 1 as well. The key is timely goal scoring and Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov was the victim of plenty of awful bounces as he gave up three first-period goals. He was pulled out of mercy. Expect a much better effort from him and the defense alike.
Also, the goaltending of Semyon Varlamov can be close to the level of Vasilevskiy. It is the way that the New York Islanders play as a team under coach Barry Trotz that has kept New York in this series. This feels like 2020 all over again. Both games on Long Island were close which is why it is hard to pick the Tampa Bay puckline on Monday. The moneyline, if anything, is safer.
New York and Tampa can both play at a high pace. The crowd on Long Island expects to feed into that frenzy. Tampa Bay knows the fourth win is the toughest. They have been here before.
Take the Tampa Bay Lightning to cover the moneyline.
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Chris Wassel is a skilled scribe who possesses a fervor for both sports and entertainment. Boasting a journalism background and over two decades of experience, he has crafted pieces that encompass a diverse array of sports including hockey, basketball, football, and others. His writing is characterized by its lucidity and sharpness, and provides a unique viewpoint on entertainment and political matters. While Chris primarily focuses on sports writing, he also writes about a wide range of subjects.