The NHL is set up with another exciting matchup on Friday night as eight games are up on the board from November 1. The NHL is one month into the season and things are really picking up. One of the matchups on the board will be between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders. This game will start at around 7:00 PM Eastern time on Friday night.
Tampa Bay has been off to a bit of a slower start than expected so far this season. The Lightning have earned a record of 6-4-2 to this point, which has them tied for fifth place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay is coming off a win in their last game, but have lost two of their last three games. The Lightning will look to pull off a win on Friday night to get a winning streak going.
The Islanders have been red hot recently to jump out to a fast start this season. New York has gone 8-3 so far this season, which has helped them earn the third place spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders have won seven games in a row after a 1-3 start to the season. New York will look to keep this winning streak alive with another victory on Friday night.
Tampa Bay and New York have both had solid starts to this season but will look to move up in the standings with a win on Friday. The Lightning ran away with the Presidents Trophy last season, but to this point in this season, are not in a playoff spot. There is still plenty of time, but I expect Tampa Bay to pick up their play as the season progresses.
The Lightning and the Islanders met up a total of three times last season. The first game was in Tampa Bay, where the Lightning rode Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 35 save performance to a 4-2 win. The second game shifted to New York. Thomas Greiss stopped 38 of 39 shots to help the Islanders win 5-1. The final game of the season series was an exciting one as Victor Hedman scored the shootout winner to help Tampa Bay win 1-0.
Tampa Bay is coming off a 7-6 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night. Before that win though, the Lightning had lost back to back matchups to the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers. Steven Stamkos leads the team in points so far this season, earning five goals and seven assists. Nikita Kucherov’s scoring has slowed a bit after last season as he has earned four goals and seven assists.
New York has been the hottest team in the NHL over the last two weeks, winning seven in a row. The Islanders won their last three games by two goals and have won by two or more goals in four of their last seven wins. Brock Nelson has helped lead the way as he has four goals and six assists, while Matthew Barzal leads the team in goals with five on the season.
Tampa Bay’s special teams have not been playing as well as they did last season. The Lightning’s power play has been doing well. They have scored on 8 of their 32 power play chances, which is a 25 percent success rate. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill has struggled quite a bit, the Lightning have allowed 13 goals on 45 power play chances. The Lightning’s penalty kill has a 73.1 percent kill rate.
The Islanders have had a solid special teams’ unit to this point in the season. New York’s power play has scored on 5 of their 18 power play chances, which is a 27.8 percent. The Islanders penalty kill has only allowed 6 goals on 31 power play chances this season, which is an 80.7 percent penalty kill rate.
The Lightning have had a solid power play so far this season, but their penalty kill has struggled. New York has a strong power play, but they have not had a lot of power play chances this season. Tampa Bay has had a lot of penalties this season and need to avoid getting in the penalty box against the Islanders. I expect special teams to play an important role in this matchup.
I expect Andrei Vasilevskiy to get the nod in the net on Friday night against the Islanders. Vasilevskiy has put up a record of 5-3 through his eight starts this season. He has earned a save percentage of .910 and a 3.00 GAA. Vasilevskiy’s last start came against the New York Rangers, where he stopped 38 of 41 shots in a losing effort.
Semyon Varlamov is the expected starter for New York in this matchup. Varlamov has earned a record of 4-2 so far this season. In those six starts, he has posted a .918 save percentage and a GAA of 2.53. Varlamov’s last start was against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 27. He stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced to help the Islanders get the win.
Both of these goalies have had solid starts to the season. Varlamov’s stats are slightly better through this portion of the season, but Vasilevskiy won the Vezina Trophy last season as the best goalie in the league. I expect him to keep up that high level of play throughout this season. The Lightning need a solid night out of him if they want to end New York’s winning streak.
I believe that the Lightning have a good chance to end the Islanders’ winning streak on Friday night. Tampa Bay is better than their record so far shows. The Lightning have talent up and down their roster, which could help them pull off the win on the road. If Tampa Bay can earn the edge on special teams or at least neutralize the Islanders’ power play, it should be enough to win.
BetOnline has the Lightning listed as a -121 against the money line in this game. This implies that Tampa Bay will win this game around 54.8 percent of the time. I think that this is a fair line with how the Lightning have been playing as of late. I still like Tampa Bay as the favorites in this game though and with a smaller money line, I think there is some value in them.