Eastern Conference Finals Predictions: Tampa Bay vs New York

Our staff is split on the results, but one thing is for certain — it'll be a good series.

The first game of the Eastern Conference Finals begins tonight, as the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders take the ice for the right to lose to the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals.

After getting swept in the first round last year, the Lightning’s revenge tour is in full force — they’ve won both of their series in just five games, and have only lost three times in total this postseason. They were the Cup favorites going into the bubble for a reason, and have looked dominant the entire way.

The Islanders, however, have looked dominant in their own way — like the Stars, they are a traditionally defense-first team that has had a scoring renaissance, leading all four remaining postseason teams in goals for. Guess that whole “losing John Tavares but gaining Barry Trotz” thing worked out for them.

Before we get to our picks, here’s how our staff did in the second round:

Congrats to Ann and Rob, who went 4-0 in Round 2, although Mark and Logan still lead the pack across both rounds. Overall, every member of our staff is above .500, so you should definitely listen to us because we clearly know our stuff.

Tampa Bay Lightning (2) vs New York Islanders (6)

Taylor: This will be the year of the Lightning. They’re just too good, even if the Islanders can hang with them and give them some fits. But nobody wins the Stanley Cup without some adversity. Lightning in 6.

Robert: The Lightning are really good at everything, and New York don’t have the horses to contain them. Lightning in 5.

Logan: Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that the Tampa Bay Lightning are my guys in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders are good, and provided a fun seven games against the Flyers, but I have to go with my heart on this one. The Lightning want that spot in the final more, and they’ve got a great roster with depth and experience to their advantage. Lightning in 7.

Derek: Tampa Bay has too much talent, too much depth, too much balance, and, maybe above all else, too much playoff experience on their roster. These guys have been one of the NHL’s best teams for a long time, and they seem hungry to prove to everyone that they are THE best team. Barry Trotz is getting everything he can out of this Isles roster, so they won’t go away without a fight, but I think goaltending is going to be their Achilles’ Heel in this series. Lightning in 6.

Wes: The Islanders are here because the quirks of the COVID-19 postseason gave them the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers. Tampa Bay wrecked the Boston Bruins. Barry Trotz’s system will keep it closer than it should be, but the Bolts are a different class. Lightning in 6.

Ann: There’s absolutely no reason, on paper, why the Lightning would lose this round. However, a Stars vs Islanders final would be HILARIOUS. Game 7 will go to double overtime. Islanders in 7.

Tyler: 2020 is the year of the Lightning. Nothing stops this train. Lightning in 5.

Rob M: Tampa absolutely demolished the Boston Bruins in their second round match up, but I haven’t forgotten about their issues with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Islanders are talented, deep, and structured, and they may have the best coach left coaching. Tampa tends to struggle against teams with an ironclad identity. The Islanders will frustrate the skilled Lightning with their defense and timely goal scoring. Islanders in 6.

Mark: By all rights, this should be the Lightning’s series to lose. The Islanders have taken apart the Caps and Flyers — in dominant fashion. New York has been the best team in the bubble, so they’ll win. Islanders in 6.

Final Tally: Tampa Bay 6, New York 3