Welcome back to NHL Predictions, June 13th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This is the first and only slate of NHL Predictions for June 13th, featuring the New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning.
New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Series: Islanders 0 – 0 Lightning
Today’s contest between the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning will kick off the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Interestingly enough, this is a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay won that series in six games, and it stands to reason that this one will be close as well.
The Islanders and Lightning couldn’t be more different. Tampa Bay relies on high-powered stars in every facet of the game. Their forward group is headed by players like Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos. They have Victor Hedman on defence and Andrei Vasilevskiy in net. Even though the Lightning were underdogs on paper in their first- and second-round matchups, there are few teams in the NHL that have as much pure talent as they do.
The New York Islanders, on the other hand, thrive not on star power but on depth and grit. The majority of their scoring comes from players like Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri, from the second and third lines respectively. And while they don’t necessarily possess any blueliners of Hedman’s calibre, their overall defensive style of play, combined with Semyon Varlamov’s reliable goaltending, poses a significant challenge for opposing forwards. Though the Islanders are often overlooked as real contenders, they’re still a deceptively strong team.
Nevertheless, the Lightning seem like the best bet to take the first game. Their preeminent skill, combined with the home-ice advantage, should help them edge out the Islanders this time.
Prediction: Lightning win, 3-2