New York Islanders Look to Defy the Odds Tonight

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The New York Islanders are seeking their first conference championship since 1984, but they’ll have to win the next two against the Tampa Bay Lightning in order to do so. Down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals series, Thursday night sees the Islanders facing elimination in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Puck drop is at 8 pm Eastern, and tonight’s conference finals game six betting lines between the Islanders and Tampa Bay are favoring the Lightning. Tampa is +107 while New York is +220. The projection gives the Isles just a 15% of pulling off the upset.

Of course, being a fan of Long Island’s team means being the underdog and defying the odds.

Dave Simon, Islanders superfan and season ticket holder provided us with three things to look for this game tonight:

(1) Do the Isles stay with 11 forwards and seven defensemen? If not, does Johnny Boychuk then come out?

(2) The power play for both sides; Tampa’s has absolutely killed the Isles this series, and the Isles power play has been weak the last two rounds. if the isles can get that going, they can win.

(3) Stick to the system. The Isles have played better when it’s a defensive game, and not a track meet. If they stay back on defense, wait and then capitalize, they’ll be in a much better spot.

We’ll see how Barry Trotz brings ’em out tonight and then works in his line changes. Coaching in the NHL since 1998, he’s led his teams to 12 playoff appearances and one Stanley Cup win (2018 with the Washington Capitals).

Trotz was in his very first season of coaching the last time the Islanders won the conference, their sixth within a span of seven years from 1977-1984. No matter what happens tonight, or in a hypothetical game seven, this season is already a big success when you compare it to recent results.

The Islanders’ last conference final appearance came in 1993, and while that did not prelude a return to the franchise’s lone golden period, when they won the Stanley Cup four consecutive times, from 1979-1983, maybe this time it will be different.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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