It comes as no shock that Tampa Bay has made it this far. For years, it seems as though they’ve been on the edge of something great and have never been able to get over that final mountain on the climb to victory. This year can be different, though… if they don’t get in their own way.
While the Lightning may have been an easy pick to play in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders may have been a bit harder to choose. One thing is for sure- both teams deserve the position they’re in, and it will be a hard fought series.
New York Islanders
Beating the Washington Capitals in the playoffs is no easy feat. However, the Islanders managed to make it look easy, making fools of an experienced team that had won a Stanley Cup only two years prior. They shut down the Capitals’ offense and limited their typically stellar neutral zone play.
The Flyers weren’t exactly easy to get past, either. In fact, they were the favorites by many to play in the Conference Final. The key to that series was good starts for the Isles, strong forechecking, and shots on goal from key areas of the ice, including around the crease.
While all these things helped them in the first two series, it is obvious that they are out-classed by a stronger, more playoff-experienced Tampa Bay roster that has been hungry for a Cup for many years.
Tampa Bay Lightning
In 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning finished the regular season with an impressive 62 wins. They were heavily favored to take the Cup but were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round. That devastating loss has stuck with them, and it’s clear that they are not letting up this year.
Their roster has not changed much, if at all. Their young players have had the chance to develop, and their veterans might as well look as young as their 20 year olds with the speed with which they’re playing. Tampa also healed the chip on their shoulder by beating the Blue Jackets in the first round this season. They then went on to beat the Bruins in a series most expected to go seven games but went only five.
They are simply flying by the competition, and the breaks are nowhere in sight. The Islanders simply do not have the playoff experience or the fiery spirit the Lightning possess. Tampa also has six days of rest, whereas the Islanders only have one.
Currently, the odds favor Tampa at -195 and have the Islanders at +160. This is an accurate representation of how the series is expected to play out. The Islanders aren’t weak enough to be swept, but this series will likely not be seven games.
Expect to see a celebration of dark blue and white within the next two weeks.