In what's been made a bit of a series, the Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the New York Islanders in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night.
After the Islanders defeated Tampa Bay by a 2-1 margin in overtime on Tuesday, the Lightning will look to answer back in a big way.
The Islanders need to come out with urgency to win, while Tampa Bay needs to come into this game with the urgency to close the door and end it – now. The Lightning do not want a Game 7.
All odds are as of Wednesday night based on the odds from play.spreads.ca
Tampa Bay needs to feed off veteran experience
Victor Hedman scored the only goal for Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and he is a player I would look for to generate offense for the Lightning on Thursday. He has been as steady as they come in this series, recording three goals and two assists in five games. You have heard me talk about Nikita Kucherov ad nauseum, and rightfully so. However, Hedman deserves props as well.
Again, it’s going to come down to the goaltending for Tampa Bay. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been on fire in this series, allowing only 1.81 goals a game. In what has been a frantic playoff series, he has been a welcome constant.
The major advantage that Tampa Bay has over New York in terms of this game is playoff experience. This particular group of players has “been there, done that” before. However, they have had difficulty getting the job done over the past couple of seasons. Tampa Bay is hoping that will change on Thursday.
Islanders need to rely on everyone
For the Islanders, they have relied on a combination of veteran experience as well as young stars. Take Tuesday’s game for example. The Islanders were the recipients of goals from Jordan Eberle, a nine-year right winger, and Ryan Pulock, a fourth-year player. Throughout the playoffs, the Islanders have gotten the job done in a variety of ways. They need to do that on Thursday if they want to secure a victory.
Semyon Varlamov is expected to be in net on Thursday night. He was brilliant on Wednesday, stopping 36-of-37 shots.
For this game, I feel comfortable taking Tampa Bay -1.5 on the puckline at 2.66. Although the Islanders have managed to claw their way back into this series, Tampa Bay still has a slight upperhand in terms of scoring and speed. Although that did not work in the Lighting’s favor in the last game, good teams know how to close the door when it matters most. This would be one of those times, and I expect Tampa Bay to do so.
-- written by Danny the Geek