The New York Islanders will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup semifinals for the second consecutive season, and once again the former are sizable underdogs. The Lightning defeated the Islanders in six games as -185 series favorites last summer in the Edmonton bubble, and this time they’re carrying even more chalk.
DraftKings lists the Lightning as -265 favorites with the Islanders at +220, which suggests Tampa Bay will win the series approximately 70 percent of the time, and I don’t believe there’s much value in betting either of those lines.
By my estimation, the Lightning will win the series about 74 percent of the time and that equates to odds of -285. There is some value in betting them to win the series, but shop around and try to find the best available odds. BetMGM is offering the Lightning at -275, but they are available at FanDuel at -250.
The same goes if you’re looking to bet the underdog here. Don’t take the first price you see. At William Hill, there’s an odds boost on the Islanders to win the series at +275. The max bet might only be $100 but that is plenty for most bettors and it beats the prices that you’ll find at other shops by quite a bit. It’s a bet that’s likely to lose given the implied 30-percent chance that the Islanders have, so bettors might as well get the best available odds. If there’s ever a time to shop around and take advantage of the many options that are available, it’s now when there are so few betting opportunities. However, while one sportsbook might offer bettors great series odds relative to the rest of the shops around, don’t count the rest out. There are good bets to find at every sportsbook.
I estimate the Lightning will win the series 4-2 about 21 percent of the time which works out to odds of +375. FanDuel is offering Lightning in six +380, which isn’t worth betting, but William Hill and Bet MGM are both offering 4/1, which is worth considering. Don’t stop there, though, as you’ll find DraftKings lists the prop at +425. That’s a good bet in which I perceive myself to have a two-percent edge over the bookmaker.
There are many different ways that a best-of-seven series can play out, and this is a rather specific and unlikely pick, but it’s a bet that should win more than any shop’s odds imply. With that being said, how much value you get depends on the price. Just like the other options available, simply comparing odds across sportsbooks before betting will put a bettor in a more favorable position long term.
Sportsbooks offer a variety of markets, and at BetMGM, bettors can wager on the series’ top goal scorer. The favorite is Nikita Kucherov at 11/2 but Brayden Point isn’t far behind at 15/2. Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal are each listed at 8/1.
Point offers the best value of those four players. He’s been a force in the playoffs and, according to Evolving Hockey, he’s tied for first in goals per 60 minutes with Kyle Palmieri, who has really caught fire. Palmieri is listed at 22/1 to score the most goals in the series. Don’t look past Steven Stamkos at 12/1, though.
The Lightning likely will score more goals in the series than the Islanders, and Stamkos scored goals at a higher rate than any Islanders player during the regular season. Only Point, Palmieri and Alex Killorn have scored at a higher rate in the playoffs and I didn’t mention the latter at 14/1 because he’s been finding the back of the net at twice the rate he was in the regular season and it’s probably not sustainable.