The Tampa Bay Lightning host the New York Islanders in Friday’s Game 7, with a spot in the Stanley Cup Final on the line.
Let’s make some bold predictions for how this Isles-Bolts rubber match will unfold, as the Montreal Canadiens await the winner.
New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 7 viewing information
|Friday, June 25||8:00 PM||NBCSN|
Bold Predictions for Islanders-Lightning Game 7
1. Lightning strike twice in the opening period, once on special teams
Even though Game 5 was an outlier in the sense that Tampa Bay routed the Isles 8-0, the Bolts’ three first-period goals continued their trend of starting hot in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Lightning have lit the lamp 15 times in 17 postseason games during the opening period. In the heightened atmosphere of a Game 7, in front of their home crowd, you can bet the hosts will be aggressive on the forecheck and attack New York to try to seize the early momentum.
Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov will have some demons to exorcise from the last time he was in Amalie Arena. He got yanked after allowing three goals on only 16 shots. Varlamov is going to be under siege in the first 20 minutes, and New York’s defensemen better be ready in front of him.
As for the point on special teams: The Isles’ penalty kill is an abysmal 65.1% during the postseason, whereas the Tampa Bay power play converts at a 37.7% clip. It’s pretty bold to call a shot like this, yet don’t be surprised if New York commits a penalty under duress, and the Bolts make the visitors pay.
2. Isles stage a last-stand run to tie the score at 2nd intermission
Head coach Barry Trotz‘s Islanders are a hard-nosed bunch that don’t back down from anyone. It’s obvious the Lightning have more voltage in terms of offensive firepower, yet it doesn’t matter. Trotz has routinely helped elevate New York during his tenure gotten the most out of his players.
Just look at the past two postseasons. The Islanders entered last year’s playoffs on a seven-game losing streak and had to play in the Qualifying Round. They wound up in the Conference Finals against none other than Tampa Bay, falling in six games after that Cinderella run.
It was never really in doubt that the Isles would make the playoffs again, yet they did get the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. The 2020-21 campaign wasn’t all roses.
The real key is New York’s exceptional defense, which had an uncharacteristic, drastic letdown in Game 5. In the regular season, the Isles surrendered the second-fewest goals in the NHL. They trailed 2-0 when facing elimination during the last game, yet scored three unanswered to force Friday’s decider.
However it happens — and chances are, it won’t be pretty — don’t be shocked when Game 7’s visitors dig deep and tie the score at either 2-2 or 3-3 by the end of the second period on Friday night.
3. Tampa Bay wins for Nikita Kucherov — whether he plays or not
Look, the Lightning are the reigning Stanley Cup champions for a reason. Dating back to last year’s run to hockey’s holy grail, Tampa Bay is 13-0 after a playoff loss, which is just mind-boggling.
One potentially huge setback is the uncertain status surrounding superstar forward Nikita Kucherov, who exited Game 6 early due to injury.
Kucherov is the unquestioned catalyst for the Bolts’ dynamic offense, registering five goals and 22 assists in 17 postseason contests so far in 2021.
Although there’s plenty of depth up front behind Kucherov, his absence would be a big blow in terms of production and team morale. Again, though, how unique is it that Tampa Bay can just shake off a loss like it’s nothing?
Remember, this is the same club that got abruptly swept out of the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019 on the heels of one of the best regular seasons ever. That core group has changed very little, and they overcame that historic disappointment to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup the following year.
Whether Kucherov takes the ice or not, you can bet on the Lightning playing with an extra edge based on what happened to him the last time out, and the fact that they narrowly missed out on still beating New York before dropping Game 6 by a score of 3-2 in overtime.
New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 7 conclusion, final score prediction
This Isles-Lightning matchup is the classic unstoppable-force-meets-immovable-object showdown. It’s a shame either of these two teams will lose. Alas, that’s life in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the bold prediction here is that the Lightning win, with an empty net goal at the end to add to the final tally.
- Game 7 prediction: Lightning 5, Islanders 3
Daily fantasy picks
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, goalie, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Mathew Barzal, center, New York Islanders
- Brayden Point, center, Tampa Bay Lightning
Betting picks for Islanders-Lightning Game 7
- Tampa Bay Lightning (-175) vs. New York Islanders
- New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5) goals – OVER