Free Picks: Lightning vs. Islanders, 2021 Stanley Cup Semi Finals

Patrick Trudeau
Patrick Trudeau
NHL Free Picks – Best Bets of the Week
Islanders vs Lightning Playoffs Semi Finals
Lightning vs. Hurricanes, Semi Finals, Lightning wins series 4-3

Meeting once again in consecutive seasons, the Islanders would look to take down Tampa Bay. Unfortunately for New York, their storybook fairytale would come to an end thanks to a 1-0 loss in Game 7.

Series Results: Lightning wins series 4-3

The defending champions prevail!

In front of a sold-out crowd, the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to escape the underdog New York Islanders in seven games. The series finale was a heartbreaker, as the Lightning were able to close out the series and book their ticket to the final with a 1-0 victory.

Tampa Bay continues to threaten playoff statistics as the Lightning dominate the majority of categories. Their work isn’t done yet, however. The defending Stanley Cup champions will take on the Montreal Canadiens for the holy grail of professional hockey.

Game 1

June 13, 03:00 p.m., Amalie Arena

Can the Islanders upset the defending champions?

With a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup on the line, the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning prepare for their biggest match-up of the season.

But how do you prepare for a team you haven’t seen? Luckily for the Islanders and Lightning, they met last season in the Conference Finals and not too much has changed from either team.

Looking at the odds of the outright winner of the series, I think this battle is very close. The Lightning are listed at -286 (Betway) to win the series, but I could definitely see New York upsetting Tampa Bay to reach the Stanley Cup.

This leads me into my free NHL pick for Game 1 of the series. It may seem disrespectful to Tristan Jarry (Pittsburgh) and Tuukka Rask (Boston) but I don’t think the Islanders have faced a goaltender as hot as Andrei Vasilevskiy in the playoffs.

We’ve seen how a goaltender can change a series (like Montreal) and I think Vasilevskiy is a potential difference-maker for the Islanders’ season. This is why I would recommend taking the away goals (NYI) under 2.5 (-135, Betway).

Don’t get me wrong, the Islanders’ offense is good. But in the playoffs, the Lightning have allowed 3 or more goals 5 times in 11 games. 3 of those games were against the Florida Panthers, so 60% of all games where Tampa Bay allowed 3 or more goals were in the first round.

Betting on the under for away goals leads me to my free NHL pick for the outright winner of Game 1. I don’t necessarily like the value at –195 (Betway) but I think taking the Lightning straight up will be the play. In the postseason, Tampa Bay are 3-2 at Amalie Arena while the Islanders are a solid 4-2 on the road.

This makes for an interesting game as New York stole two wins in Boston, but I think Vasilevskiy changes the outlook of this series.


Game 2 (Islanders leads series 1-0)

June 15, 08:00 p.m., Amalie Arena

Is it underdog season?

After dropping the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1, the New York Islanders currently hold a 1-0 series lead. If the Isles win on Tuesday, they will head back to Long Island with a stranglehold on the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Sunday’s 2-1 final score is a glimpse into the future of this series. I think the majority of games played will be low-scoring which impacts NHL betting odds.

The current over/under is listed at 5.5 (-190, Betway) and I think we hammer that wager once again. Vasilevskiy and Varlamov are unstoppable and they have proven on multiple occasions how solid they are. The return isn’t the greatest I’ll admit, but a bet you’re confident in is worth it regardless of the potential return. Let’s roll with the under-in total goals for this expert NHL pick.

As for the main course, I believe the Lightning can even this series up. I’ll admit that I have been shocked in the playoffs before, but I can’t see the Lightning going down 2-0 at home. Jon Cooper is excellent at adjusting and I think these teams head back to New York all squared.

Tampa Bay are the heavy favorites at -200 (888Sport) and it’s easy to see why. However, New York certainly proved something on Sunday so it wouldn’t be shocking to see odds sway in favor of the Islanders if they manage to leave with a 2-0 series lead.

New York is stellar but I want to give Tampa Bay one more chance to tie this up before siding with the Islanders. The Islanders’ offense wasn’t feared in the regular season but they have upped the ante in the playoffs.

If the Lightning manage to lose this game, I would be worried. New York have been fearless which should scare the Lightning. New York’s lockdown defense could be the reason they book a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Still, the Lightning have not lost two-in-a-row since the end of the regular season, so I trust Tampa Bay to win Game 2 for this BetPicks Prediction.


Game 3 (series tied 1-1)

June 17, 08:00 p.m., Nassau Coliseum

Game 2 went pretty much as expected.

Now, the series turns to Long Island tied 1-1 and we’re reaching a critical point in the Semi-Finals.

Tampa Bay opened the floodgates in Game 2 and never looked back. This is interesting because I am interested in the total goals for this series. Current NHL odds have the over/under at 4.5 (888Sport) and I think we take the over if that’s the case. The over is listed at -163 (888Sport) and I think that would be your best NHL bet for this contest.

Since I think we will see the over for total goals, I am also interested in another wager that is similar to the main one above. I think betting on the over in first-period goals will provide great return. The over/under is listed at 1.5 and I like the over (+120) for first period goals. I think Tampa Bay’s offense is too good to be held off the scoresheet in the opening frame. Plus, the Islanders are back home and will have all the momentum to open the scoring in the early frame.

Skipping over to the outright winner of this game, I believe that the Lightning Moneyline will be the play. I sound like a broken record, but I love Tampa Bay’s offense and think they may be the top offensive squad remaining in the NHL playoffs.

On the backend, Andrei Vasilevskiy might be the reason Tampa Bay repeats as champions. The Lightning defense is highly touted and there might not be a team remaining in the playoffs that can crack this group.

With that being said, if you’re looking for a winner straight up, I suggest Tampa Bay at -145 (Betway). The Lightning are built for the Cup and I think they steal a win on the road like the Islanders did to open the series.


Game 4 (Lightning lead series 2-1)

June 19, 08:00 p.m., Nassau Arena

Can New York even the series?

Like the Islanders did to the Lightning, Tampa Bay stole a game on the road on Long Island. Now up 2-1 in the series, Tampa Bay looks to have a stranglehold on New York.

It’s evident that this series will be a defensive battle. Right now, taking the under has proven to be beneficial, as we are 2-1 on betting the under in this series. I think taking the under 5 goals at +105 (Betway) should be the play for this BetPicks Prediction. Of the 3 games played so far, they have seen 3 goals or less on two occasions, so I am confident that we see another low-scoring affair in this one.

As for the outright winner of this game, I think momentum swings back in favor of the Islanders. What I love about New York is that they are scrappy. They aren’t considered flashy and they get the job done. Although they are down 2-1, the Islanders have pressured Tampa Bay and continue to generate scoring chances.

For the winner, let’s take the New York Islanders Moneyline +110 (Betway) for this expert NHL pick. I see this series going the distance and it starts with New York tying things up at 2-games apiece.

Discipline will be key for this game. For the most part, both Tampa Bay and New York have remained disciplined. In Game 3, the Islanders and Lightning both took penalties. While it didn’t amount to a Power Play goal for either team, that extra skater and man advantage could potentially change the outlook of this series.

For this NHL prediction, I think we see another low-scoring game and for the Islanders to win. New York is scrappy and I think they edge out a win on Saturday.


Game 5 (series tied 2-2)

June 21, 08:00 p.m., Amalie Arena

It’s now a best-of-3…

As the series returns to Tampa Bay, the Islanders and Lightning are now battling in a best-of-3 for a spot in the Stanley Cup finals.

While home-ice advantage is critical in the playoffs, the Lightning haven’t benefitted at home as they have on the road. During the NHL playoffs, the Lightning are 4-3 at home and 7-2 on the road.

For this expert NHL pick, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Lightning are favorites to win this game. Listed at -120 (10Bet), Tampa Bay is once again the favorite ahead of game 5.

But before I dive into the winner straight up, there is one wager I recommend if you don’t want to bet the Moneyline.

There is one wager I like that will have great return if it cashes. I am really intrigued with both teams scoring in the first period.

I will admit, looking at previous games, there has only been one instance in which both teams have scored in the first period. Game 2 saw Brayden Point open the scoring for Tampa Bay, with Brock Nelson equalizing the score nearly 5 minutes later.

I love this bet because it is obtainable, the odds are great at +225 (10Bet) and I think both teams are due. If I learned anything from watching this series, it’s that one goal will quickly lead to another. This is why I recommend betting that both teams will score in the 1st period at +225 (10Bet) for this NHL prediction.

Jumping to the winner straight up, I like the Lightning in this game. Although they managed to lose Game 4, Tampa Bay is returning home. Momentum is huge in professional hockey and I think the Lightning can use the crowd’s energy to their advantage.

Tampa Bay poured on the offense last game but it was too late. Although there was a last-second chance, the Lightning could not tie the game. I think if Tampa Bay gets the ball rolling early they walk away up 3-2 in the series.



Game 6 (Lightning leads series 3-2)

June 23, 08:00 p.m, Nassau Coliseum

New York gets one more chance.

After the 8-0 loss to the Tampa Bay, the Islanders return home but are down 3-2 in the series. If they manage to lose at home, New York will be eliminated in the Semifinals in consecutive seasons.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise for this BetPicks Prediction that the Islanders are underdogs at +130 (888 Sport). The Islanders are still considered a longshot to win the Stanley Cup and Game 6’s odds reflect that.

While I have preached defense for this series and especially betting the under, I think the opposite will ring true for this game. The over/under at 888Sport is relatively low at 4.5, which is why I want to hit the over at -163.

Desperation hockey leads to scoring chances, on top of high-scoring games. The Islanders will leave it all out on the ice, which may leave them prone to scoring chances for Tampa Bay. I don’t think the return is necessarily great, but I still think it’s the best NHL bet you can make for this game.

Looking at this game, it’s incredibly difficult to come back from such a defeat, but I wouldn’t hold that over the Islanders. This could potentially be the last game played at Nassau Coliseum, which means Wednesday night will be a special occasion for the team.

Although they were hammered in Game 5, I think New York comes flying out of the gate. Tampa Bay ran the score but eventually, those goals don’t matter other than inflating stat totals. New York has staked with Tampa Bay in this series and have done so at home.

They may not reach the Stanley Cup final, but I think the Islanders can at least push this series to a decisive Game 7.


Game 7 (series tied 3-3)

June 25, 08:00 p.m., Amalie Arena

We’re going the distance!

After an exhilarating 6th game that ended in overtime, the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning returning to Florida for a decisive 7th game.

For this BetPicks Prediction, I think it’s only fitting that we focus on total goals. In this series, I have correctly predicted 4 of 6 games, all while betting on total goals. The two outliers were Game 5 (8-0 TBL) and Game 2 (4-2 TBL). With that being said, I think taking the over for this game makes the most sense. The over 4.5 -163 (888Sport) and I am confident that we see at least 5 goals in this contest.

4 of 6 games have featured 5 goals scored (or more) so I think taking the over will be your best NHL bet for this game.

Nikita Kucherov left Game 6 with injury and his status for Game 7 is unknown. That is a huge blow to Tampa Bay and could greatly impact them winning this series.

Focusing on Game 7, I think taking the New York Islanders Moneyline will be the play. This seems like a fairytale playoff and I think the historic run for the Islanders continues. New York are listed at+145 (888Sport) on the Moneyline and I want to hammer that wager.

Penalties will be huge. Tons of chances were generated off the Power Play, so whichever team can stay out of the box should walk away victorious. Tampa Bay racked up 5 penalties and New York held 3 pens in Game 6. Whichever team is more disciplined has a greater chance of winning this hockey game.

It’s been a wild ride for both teams, but for this expert NHL pick, I believe the Islanders upset the Lightning at home. It’s bold, but the entirety of the 2021 playoffs have been.


have always wanted to be a writer and sports are my favorite thing in the world, so I combined the two to make a career. I have been a long-time gambler and sports betting writer that isn't afraid to look at the underdog or specials. I am covering the NHL, MLB and NCAA Football for and am a huge fan of both sports - as well as many others. Follow me on Twitter (@Patrick_Trudeau) so we can talk betting, sports, or why ketchup DOES belong on Poutine.