Lightning versus Islanders: Predicting the East Final

Can the Isles stop Tampa? (Getty Images)

Of all the teams that entered this tournament from the qualifying round, only the NY Islanders are still standing. They aren’t just standing, they are charging ahead. They’ve beaten two of the top four teams that warmed up with round robin play, can they knock off a third?

Lightning versus Islanders: NYI breakdown

Barry Trotz is the real MVP of this team. The Islanders play a sound defensive system and are the most resilient team standing in these playoffs. The question now remains, are they for real or did they just catch the 3rd seed Capitals at the right time in round one (4 games to 1)? They almost blew a 3-1 series lead to the 1st seed Flyers but got a big game from Thomas Greiss in game 7 to advance. If they can take out the Lightning, can they be stopped? Let’s find out.

Lightning versus Islanders
Islanders take game one (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

The forwards have played great as the Isles just get four lines rolling and contributing. I mean, they are being led by Josh Bailey with 17 points in 16 games. Yes, not Mat Barzal (13pts/16gms). This is a testament to Trotz and the system and will prove difficult for the Lightning.

On defense, there isn’t a lot going on offensively with Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews each having 8 points. That’s not what Trotz defenseman do, they don’t take chances, they defend.

In goal, Semyon Varlamov was the number one but it appears Thomas Greiss has taken over. Honestly, with the way the Islanders play defense either goaltender is capable.

Lightning versus Islanders: Tampa Bay breakdown

Can the Tampa Bay Lightning finally overcome all their playoff demons and win the Stanley Cup? If there was ever a team and time to get it done, it’s now. Tampa casually strolled through the round robin but have become an unstoppable force in these playoffs. They dispatched of their playoff nemesis 7th seed Blue Jackets in 5 games. The they took out the vaunted 4th seed Bruins in 5 as well.

Lightning versus Islanders
Lightning knock off Bruins (Getty Images)

Up front, the Lightning’s best players are getting it done. They are led by Brayden Point (18 points / 13 games) and Nikita Kucherov (16 pts / 13 games). Tampa is big, fast, and physical. They will be an absolute handful for the Islanders defense.

On the blue-line, the incomparable Victor Hedman is so good on both sides of the puck. With 9 points in 13 games, Hedman is the leader of a defense that boasts some Stanley Cup worthy names. Former Rangers, Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan McDonagh have the veteran experience and drive to win that silver chalice.

In goal, Tampa has the best goalie in the game. Andrei Vasilevskiy is a brick wall with a 1.91 GAA and a mind-boggling .931 SV%. If Tampa wins it all, he will be in the MVP running.

Lightning versus Islanders: Predictions

The Islanders may have finally met their match in the form of the Tampa Bay Lightning. While they will be tough to beat, Jon Cooper’s charges will be just too much for Barry Trotz’s lunch pail crew.

On special teams these two teams are virtually even and there is no real advantage there. It will come down to scoring and goaltending and the Lightning have too much top level talent for the Isles to stop.

The other issue for the Islanders is in goal. Can either goalie steal games for them? I just don’t see it. This looks like Tampa’s year.

Lightning in 5 games over the Islanders

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