Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NHL Game 1 Playoff Picks and Predictions for Monday Sept. 7

Game 1 - New York at Tampa Bay

  • Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals
  • Date: Monday, September 7, 2020
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Rogers Place
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

NHL Best Bet - Game 1 SIde

New York Islanders ML +128

It took awhile to fully wrap my head around this series and how I want to attack it from a short term and long term perspective. Long term we will get to in a bit, but short term, even with fatigue a concern, I'll take that over a team that's been off stewing in hotel rooms for more than a week.

The Islanders have been through the thick of it every other day leading up to today, and while it probably means there is a dud coming, starting a series against a team that's yet to play in the month of September can make it quite the advantage. And really, the Islanders weren't exactly emptying the gas tank in that Game 7 vs Philly, as it was Islanders hockey from the start.

They jumped out to the early lead, padded it, and counted down the seconds from there. Fatigue concern is there, but nowhere near as concerning as it was for either of the Western Conference teams after their Game 7's.

Tampa's chances of rust are likely greater having not played for a full week, but made worse by the fact that they've had to stay in the bubble the whole time and wait for travel plans until the end.

Tough spot to find that playoff intensity you need in a Game 1 of the Eastern Finals, especially when you've got to manufacture all the energy yourselves with no crowd.

If I were a Tampa fan concerned about just winning the game, the extended time off can easily be viewed as a good thing for them having fresher legs going forward, but as a bettor and them being -150 chalk, I want no part of them at all.

If the Lightning are as fresh as six full days off could suggest, maybe they do blow the doors of an Islanders team that just went seven games. All well and good, we'll get the Lightning as probably five or ten cents more expensive for Game 2 and readjust from there. Which leads me to...

NHL Best Bet Prop

New York Islanders to win series in 6 games +675

Part of the reason it took me awhile to grasp what I was looking to do with this series was having the internal debate about whether or not to base the strategy around the game-by-game route with the Islanders, or the series future route with New York.

It is the Islanders who I do expect to win this series, and it's likely better to look to the game-by-game route if that's the case. (But you can obviously go both directions simultaniously as well).

New York has looked like the most well-rounded team throughout these entire playoffs, being a 50/50 out in those back-and-forth high scoring games, and that generally being the only way teams have been able to beat them. New York's scored at least three goals in 12 of their 16 playoff games in the bubble, and are 2-2 SU in the games that they didn't.

Not one of the Islanders five losses in these playoffs have come by multiple goals, and making the switch to Greiss in Game 7 after there were clear cases to (Varlamov had allowed 9 goals in blowing the 3-1 series lead) and not to (Varlamov did lose two OT games, one goal goals the other way and is this a conversation), and the decision worked out great for them.

Everything they do is coming up roses, as we saw in the Flyers series, even when New York is playing far from their best, all they need is one great five-minute stretch and they are right back in it.

Tampa's already shown in the past that they can get tight on shooting the puck if they run into a hot goalie, and we can't forget that these two coaches squared off in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals that had Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals get by Tampa in seven games.

I think this Islanders team may not be as offensively gifted as that 2018 Capitals team was, but they can easily hold their own in that regard. More importantly though, they are better defensive players on the whole, and have better commitment to being a strong defensive team then that 2018 Capitals team did, and it's why I'm backing Trotz to get the same result in one fewer game this time around.

You shut down the Lightning offense and they get cold like we've seen from Vegas these past few games, and physical, defensive-minded teams can run all over them. You don't think the 2019 Columbus Blue Jackets took a few things from what the 2018 Washington Capitals did to this Tampa unit in upsetting them as the #1 seed with a sweep? That's 2020 Islanders hockey.

If it were a normal year where Game 6 would be an Islanders home game, it would be a common spot to call an Islanders series upset to happen, and it's got better odds then a Game 7 (+650). Maybe with a berth to the Cup Final on the line we will see “home” ice in the bubble mean something.

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