After the New York Islanders held on for a dramatic, series-tying win in Game 4, their semifinals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning is now a best-of-three. The Islanders have already won one game in Tampa, and they’ll have to win at least one more on the road if they want to find themselves in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Lightning will be the favorite in all three games, just as they were in the first four games, and their odds of winning the series sit at -190 at DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey. That’s a good price relative to what other shops are offering. The Lightning are listed as -225 series favorites at BetMGM and they’re carrying a -230 price tag at William Hill.
By my estimation, the series price should imply that the Lightning have about a 67 percent chance of winning the series, which equates to odds of -200. As a result, I believe there’s a little bit of value in betting the Lightning to win two out of the next three games at -190. However, there are better bets to make.
At William Hill in New Jersey, a bettor can wager on the Lighting to win the first period at -160, which should be priced closer to -180. DraftKings lists the Lightning as a -180 moneyline favorite in the first period and BetMGM is offering -175 on the same bet. This is the power of price shopping. Bettors don’t necessarily need a computer model to identify good bets. Simply looking for shops that are offering competitive odds is a pretty good strategy.
The Lightning are a team that typically responds well after a loss or a poor performance and that should be evident early in Monday’s Game 5. They started strong on Saturday but could not solve Semyon Varlamov, but on his home ice. We can expect them to draw more penalties when they dictate play. In the first two games, the two teams combined to take 24 minor penalties but have combined for only eight in the two games since.
Additionally, the pace of play has been much higher when the Lightning have been the home team and that means this game should trend toward going over the total of 5. However, instead of laying Over 5 at -136, I would look to bet the alternate total, over 5.5 goals at +128, and there’s at least one anytime goal-scorer prop that’s worth considering.
The obvious choices would be Brayden Point and Mathew Barzal, who were the favorites to lead the series in scoring and have proven why. Point has scored four goals, Barzal three. No other player has scored more than once in the series, and many players have yet to score at all, including Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos. The forward has been held to just two shots, and three shot attempts, over the last two games.
Once again, though, home ice should open things up quite a bit for the Lightning, and that includes their captain. Stamkos has averaged almost five shot attempts per game on home ice throughout the playoffs compared to just 3.5 attempts per game on the road. DraftKings lists Stamkos at +190 to score a goal in Game 5, which implies that he’s about a 34 percent chance of doing so. But when I price this prop I land on +165, which suggests that he will score about 38 percent of the time. Bet on Stamkos to score a goal for the first time in the semifinals.