Even Steven: Both Stanley Cup Semi-Finals Locked-Up at 1-1

NHL Jun 17, 2021

Both Underdogs Get a Road Win, Resume Series in Game 3 with Home Ice Advantage

Well, well, well....  

It sure looks like we've got a couple of NHL playoff series that might go down to the wire.  Either (or both) matchup(s) could go 6 or 7 games.  A few days ago, that announcement would be a surprise given that both semi-finals were forecasted to be one-sided, with a dominant team playing against a heavy underdog.

However, after two games completed in each series, both semi-finals are now locked up even at 1-1.  Now, the dogs have the upper hand since they'll be hosting the next two games, and perhaps 3 of the next 5.

The series odds on the Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Islanders series has adjusted in favor of the dog.   The Islanders opened at +220 to win the series. Now, they're +175.  If New York can upset Tampa Bay in Game 3, they'll probably be even money, or perhaps even a slight favourite.

The series odds on the Las Vegas Golden Knights- Montreal Canadiens series has adjusted in a similar fashion.  The Canadiens opened at +370 (and were as high as +425 in Las Vegas sportsbooks).  Now, they're +290.  A win in Game 3 probably puts the Habs are +150, or so.

Here's the series prices according to SPREADS.CA:

Next, the puck drops on Long Island (New York) on Thursday night.  Then, the semi-finals will head north to Canada for the first time as Montreal will host Friday night's clash of the titans.  

Here's a closer look at where we're at in both series heading into a crucial Game 3:

For the first time in decades, the New York Islanders are hosting a semi-finals game.  Although the feisty Islanders took on the Lightning in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, those games were played in Edmonton’s Rogers Place due to the COVID pandemic.  The Isles are even with last year’s Stanley Cup champs through two games.  The New Yorkers aim to take a 2-1 game lead tonight on Long Island.

So far, despite their status as favourites, Tampa Bay has not looked better than the Islanders in this series.  Isles' goaltender Semyon Varlamov had a poor game in the last meeting between these teams, but he'll probably play better in front of a raucous home crowd in Game 3.

After the disappointing 2-1 loss in Game 1 when the Lightning generated barely a spark of offense, Tampa Bay regrouped and set the tone early in Game 2.  That sense of urgency helped the Lightning get a 4-2 win.

Tonight's game shows the Lightning getting the respect and the wagers.  This number (-150) is a bit surprising since the Islanders (+125) have shown they're up to the challenge of sticking with Tampa Bay.  A rare playoff game at Nassau Coliseum will only spur more enthusiasm for the home dog.

PREDICTION:  Tampa Bay certainly deserves to be favoured, but not by this much.  The NY Islanders can play suffocating defense and frustrate opponents.  Look for a low-scoring game where goals are hard to come by.  The outcome could go either way, so we'll jump on the value with the home dog getting +125.  There's also some value in the Isles at +225 to win in regulation (not overtime).  Purely for value, those are the wagers that look the most appealing.

FINAL SCORE FORECAST: NY Islanders 2, TB Lightning 1  

Analysis Pending