New York Islanders Making Return Trip To NHL Stanley Cup Semifinals Versus Defending Champs

Written By Dave Bontempo on June 12, 2021

A tip of the hat,  and some love from the NJ sports betting app, greet the highly-achieving New York Islanders.

They have been a Stanley Cup playoff Wonderdog, authoring two come-from-behind series upsets and now facing the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in hockey’s Final Four.

New Jersey online bettors will fnd attractive odds as the Isles begin this best-of-seven battle Sunday in Tampa.


Initial Islanders, Lightning series odds

DraftKings Sportsbook has Tampa Bay at -305 as the series moneyline favorite.

The Islanders odds were at +255 early Friday evening (up from +180).

William Hill boosted the Islanders to +275.

The Vegas Knights are prohibitive favorites in the other Cup semifinal, opening at -500 against the Montreal Canadiens.


Islanders playing like blue-collar barons

The gritty and determined Isles overcame two-to-one series deficits against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins to reach this stage.

In both instances, they pulled even at home in Game 4, survived a Game 5 nail-biter (a double-overtime win in Pittsburgh, a one-goal win in Boston after coughing up a three-goal lead), and a Game 6 home clinch before a raucous crowd.

In the 2020 playoffs, The Lightning beat the Islanders in six games, inside a bubble. Crowds are back and they make a difference.

So why did the Isles reached the NHL’s final four this time around?

The Islanders have deceptive team speed and outworked the Penguins and Bruins for rebound opportunities in the slot. They were also opportunistic regarding turnovers leading to quick scoring chances.

Looking ahead to the series versus the Lightning, bettors can find value with the number of games it will last.

Based on different odds for the number of games played, bookmakers expect this series to last six games.

This appears logical as both of the Islanders’ series went six games. Tampa Bay earned one series win in six and one in five.

For DraftKings bettors who consider the six-game mark accurate. Tampa Bay to win in six is +425 while the Islanders to win in six games is +700.

Nailing that series length on either team would produce a sizable payout

NHL prop betting targets

Here are the leading playoff scorers for each team. The playoffs often produce a life of their own and regular-season stats don’t always matter.

These players have received important betting consideration in each game, regardless of how the series has been progressing. DraftKings matches some of them in series scoring props, an excellent series-within-a-series type offering to expand the wagering menu.

Bettors can also look at these players for anytime goal props.

For the Islanders, Jean-Gabriel Pageau leads them with 13 playoff points.

The other leaders are Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier with 11 points each.

The goal leaders are Kyle Palmieri with 7 and Brock Nelson with 6.

Palmieri has sizzled with seven goals, including an important tally in the Game 6 clincher against the Bruins. He had only two goals in 17 regular-season games after being traded by the New Jersey Devils to the Islanders in April but enjoys a remarkable playoff run.

Palmieri has been the quintessential example of playoffs being enriched by a mid-range player who suddenly gets hot.

This type of performance can override an opposing team’s natural talent in a short series. He’s a consideration for anytime scorer in each individual game.

Tampa Bay players to watch on the prop line in any game. Here are series point totals through two rounds:

  • Nikita Kucherov 18 points, most of any player in the league.
  • Steven Stamkos 13
  • Brayden Point 12
  • Alex Killorn 12
  • Victor Hedman 11

Point 8, Killorn, 6, are leading Tampa Bay in playoff goals.

These are good numbers to consider regarding goal and point-total props on individual games.

Between the pipes, edge Tampa Bay

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Tampa Bay defense have been deceivingly strong. Although the Lightning are associated with offensive prowess, Vasilevskiy authored two shutouts in the first two rounds.

The Lightning allowed just nine goals in the series against the Carolina Hurricanes, less than two per game.

Going back to last year’s Stanley Cup finals, Vasilevskiy has produced a shutout in three consecutive clinching games. Keep that in mind if Tampa Bay looks to close out the series. The price for a shutout often is +750 or more

The Islanders have gotten goalie Semyon Varlamov to practically stand on his head. He’s performed well enough to keep them in games and steal some in overtime, but is he the guy to take them one level higher? Varlamov played the last five games of the Bruins series after Ilya Sorokin was beaten in the opener.

Both teams can win with good offensive firepower. But can the Islanders win the 2-1 games if this becomes a defensive series?

Timing is important regarding best odds.

Early in the series or early in the formation of a new trend produces good post-season betting prices.

The books, for instance, weren’t fooled by Carolina finishing ahead of Tampa Bay in the regular-season standings. William Hill had Tampa Bay -135 to open the series, despite Carolina having a home-ice advantage.

After one Tampa Bay victory, the betting odds went to -240 on the Lightning. And for most bettors, the train had left the station. The odds were prophetic as Tampa Bay romped in five games.

Conversely, the Islanders don’t start quickly. They may offer extremely attractive odds if they fall behind early in the series.

What about Islanders. Lightning in-game wagers?

The Islanders outscored the Bruins 11-3 during the second period throughout the series and scored three goals apiece in the middle stanza of Games 2, 5, and 6.

That’s a nice consideration for in-game betting regarding wagers on the next period of play. It’s a good area to take a pop on for the Islanders, provided it pays well.

Based on recent history, this has been a good play when they are home, late in the series.

And what about series intangibles?

The Islanders believe this year could be different because they aren’t gassed from the previous round. They lost three overtime verdicts in an eventual second-round triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers and got a slow start to the next round.

The Lightning have been here before.   The defending champs are playing with the same goalie who brought them the last Cup.


Photo by AP/Frank Franklin II
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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