The Tampa Bay Lightning are finding out what life is like without Steven Stamkos. And actually, the Lighting don’t seem to be minding it much. The injury to Stamkos resulted in a big rush of money on the Red Wings last round. People associated the injury as a death sentence to the Lightning’s chances. However, the Lightning have a 2-1 series lead against the Islanders in the second-round, so something is definitely going right for them, even without the services of Steven Stamkos.
It’s allowed others to step up and play a bigger role on the ice. Notably, Tyler Johnson, who has taken the team and accepted a leadership role. Johnson is no longer hiding in the shadow of Stamkos and his play has validated that he doesn’t need to play second fiddle to another player. By all accounts, Stamkos is going to be on another team next season, so the Lightning are getting a pretty good look at their future.
The Isles need a win tonight or will face elimination back in Tampa Bay. This important game is always a swing game of sorts, as one team will need to win three straight games, and the other has three chances to win a game. I probably didn’t have to explain that, but I know there are people reading these articles that aren’t familiar with the playoff format. It was a hard loss for the Islanders in Game 3, losing in overtime after an entertaining 4-4 game in regulation. Bishop has looked vulnerable at times in this series. It’s something we didn’t see at all against the Red Wings.
He carried the Lightning in the first-round. Game 1 against the Islanders he looked the worse we’ve ever seen him. He got pulled and just had one of those kind of nights. Last game the Lightning were fortunate to score 5 goals, as Bishop took a backseat to the offense. Bishop really hasn’t pulled out a perfect performance yet, something we saw against the Wings. We’ll see what is in store for this critical Game 4 matchup.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. N.Y. Islanders NHL Playoffs Pick
Offensively both of these teams can play with the best of them. Statically during the regular season they were nearly dead even, with the Lightning scoring 2.76 goals per game and the Islanders scoring 2.77 a game. While all of the series in this round are evenly matched, I think the Lightning and Islanders can make a case for being the most even. The numbers would point to this series going seven games, but the playoffs are about playing the best hockey right now. It is often a case of who wants it more. Picking teams to win in the playoffs needs to be examined in a different light than the regular season.
There is one thing for certain between the Lightning and Islanders. Their meetings typically result in some entertaining hockey. Note that in the last ten games, they’ve averaged 6.3 goals per game between the both of them. They have scored less than 5 goals only once in that stretch. The Lightning have scored an average of 3 goals in the playoffs, with the Isles averaging 2.78 goals. Picking a winner in this game as be stumped. As good as Bishop is, he hasn’t been the best against the Islanders, where he’s had a 3.02 GAA and 0.89 save percentage. I could see it going either way, the price is just about right. In that case, I’m going to lean with a bet that has been a cash cow when they play.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-110)