Game 6: Lightning vs. Islanders Odds
|Lightning Odds||-155 [BET NOW]|
|Islanders Odds||+133 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5 (-137/+114) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Thursday, 8 p.m. ET|
The New York Islanders are experts at winning ugly. The Isles catch some flack for grinding out results rather than trying to outscore their opponents, but it’s the style of hockey that gives them the best chance to compete, especially against a high-skill team like the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bolts were the better team across the board in Game 5. In addition to winning the expected goals battle, 3.04-1.79, the Bolts attempted 16 more shots and doubled up the Islanders, 12-6, in terms of high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5.
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper noted that the stars needed to align for the Isles to win Game 5, and he’s right. But the longer New York can stay within reach of the Lightning, the better chance it has of getting the lucky bounce it needs to win.
While Tampa did boast the lion’s share of the possession and scoring chances, it’s equally important that the game was an absolute grind. The Lightning outshot the Islanders, 37-24, in a game that went to double overtime. That type of game-flow benefits the Islanders, who will gladly sacrifice their scoring chances to make sure their opponent doesn’t get very many. Low-event, high-variance hockey almost always suits the underdog.
It is still unlikely the Islanders come back and win this series — DraftKings has their odds to advance at +435 (18.7% implied win probability) — but they won’t go away easy, especially if Brayden Point is out for the Bolts.
|Goals per 60||2.75||1.6|
|Expected Goals per 60||2.83||2.1|
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 cited from Evolving Hockey.
The Lightning were hovering around -175 for most of Tuesday, but the price came crashing down when it was announced that Point was not going to play.
When Point has been in the lineup, the Lightning have closed between -162 and -167 at DraftKings. In the two games he’s sat out — both Islander wins — the Bolts closed between -143 and -157, with the caveat that he was a late scratch in Game 5 so the market may not have had time to fully settle.
It’s unlikely Cooper will confirm Point’s status until the pre-game skate, so bettors will be faced with a little bit of a dilemma.
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Game 6 Betting Pick
NHL head coaches are notorious for their ability to keep things close to the chest, but Cooper’s remarks about Point on Wednesday were a bit foreboding (via NHL.com):
“You don’t want to put guys in a position where they’re not going to be productive,” Cooper said. “And so anytime in my history of when guys have been hurt, they don’t play the same way. Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves. But in this situation, I’m hoping it’s not the last time we’re going to see Pointer, and we might be able to see him as early as tomorrow night. I don’t have the answer for that. But to answer your question, we put the player first, and then we just go from there.”
Maybe I’m reading too much into coachspeak, which is a dangerous game with a master of gamesmanship like Cooper, but I’d say at this junction, it’s more likely that Point is not in the lineup on Thursday.
Regardless, I think the Islanders are going to end up as the value side on Thursday night. There are a couple of +140s (PointsBet, FanDuel, bet365) on the Islanders as of Wednesday night, and I’d actually play the Islanders at that number even if Point is in.
Much like the Stars, the Islanders are a tricky team to beat and are able to grind down their opponents and take them deep into the game. The Isles’ ability to turn contests into coin flips often makes them an appealing play as an underdog.
If Point is out, I like the Islanders at +130 or better. If Point is in, I’d play the Islanders at +140 or better.
If you are willing to take a chance on the Islanders, there’s another bet I think has some value, though it’s not likely a winner. Brock Nelson is second on the team with 18 points and tied for first with nine goals. At the time of writing Nelson is at +2500 to win the Conn Smythe, which is awarded to the Stanley Cup Playoff MVP.
In the unlikely event the Islanders pull off the upset against the Lightning and make the Stanley Cup, Nelson’s Conn Smythe odds will come crashing down, likely under +1000.
A lot would have to go right for Nelson to even get into the Stanley Cup Final, but if the Isles do get there, I think he stands as good a chance as any Islander to be named MVP.