NHL Betting Guide: Wednesday 6/23/21

Semyon Varlamov put up a playoff-worst 81.3% save percentage before getting yanked in Game 5. Can he help the Islanders avoid elimination on home ice?

For the first time this postseason, the New York Islanders face the prospect of elimination. The Islanders were humbled in an 8-0 defeat in Game 5 and now face a must-win situation against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 on home ice. Luckily for them, our projections favor them in tonight's contest.

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New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Islanders moneyline (+126): 2-Star Rating Out of 5
Islanders +1.5 (-235): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

Home ice has been kind to the Islanders this postseason. New York has outplayed their opponents in six of eight games, relying on defensive structure to limit their opponents' chances. The Islanders have limited their opponents to nine or fewer high-danger chances at five-on-five in six of eight home games and 22 or fewer scoring opportunities in three of their last four. That defensive play wall has been tough to crack for the Lightning as they have attempted just 14 high-danger opportunities through two games at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Islanders' defensive play has also facilitated better play from Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin at home. The goaltending tandem has posted the fourth-best save percentage on home this postseason, ranking just behind the Montreal Canadiens for the best save percentage of the remaining teams. An improved effort from Varlamov will go a long way to helping the Islanders secure victory in Game 6.

In reviewing the Lightning's advanced metrics, one thing is clear -- they are playing an unsustainable brand of hockey. Tampa leads all playoff teams with a PDO of 1.048, which has been brought up thanks to an 11-game stretch in which they have posted a PDO of 1.056. The Lightning put up a playoff best 1.190 PDO in Game 5, which could be the high point before it comes plummeting back down towards average.

Based on our projections, the Islanders should be favored tonight. That aligns with our analysis, supporting that the Islanders should benefit from home ice advantage yet again and the impending regression from the Lightning. The betting market has the Lightning installed as favorites, creating advantages in betting the Islanders on the moneyline and pucklines, both of which are rated as two-star plays.