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Yahoo Sports’ NHL Playoff Picks, Round 2: Islanders vs. Lightning

The NHL decided to start Round 2 hours before the end of Round 1, which put us in a pickle when it came to our staff picks. 

So we’ve decided in the interest of good faith – since we’d all cheat and make our series picks based on what happens in Game 1 tonight – to release the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders pick ahead of puck drop.

Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy Editor

Lightning in 6

The Islanders were fortunate to escape the Panthers. They lost the possession battle in a big way, and Florida pinned them in their zone for stretches. They needed top-form goaltending from Thomas Greiss and a Herculean performance from John Tavares just to get by.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has the goaltending, the firepower and the killer instinct to win this series. Victor Hedman vs. Tavares will be epic. And if we’re wagering on goalies, my money’s on Ben Bishop.

It could go shorter, we wouldn’t expect it to go longer, but we do expect the Lightning to advance.

Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Editor

Lightning in 7

The Islanders have John Tavares. The Lightning have Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. All four players have helped carry their teams offensively in Round 1. New York has Thomas Greiss, who's played well since filling in for the injured Jaroslav Halak and posted a .948 ESSV against the Panthers. Tampa has Ben Bishop, who threw up a .946 ESSV against the Red Wings. 

There's not much separating these two teams. The Lightning could get a boost if Anton Stralman is able to return at some point in the series; but having been out with a broken leg since March 25 (suffered against the Islanders), how effective do you expect him to be in first few games back? In the end, the Lightning will get the better goaltending and timely scoring and move on.

Jen Neale, Puck Daddy Editor

Islanders in 7

This series feels really evenly matched with both lineups missing key players. Based on John Tavares's performance against Florida, this feels like his year to lead the Isles far.

New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a glove save in the first period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series in New York, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

 

Josh Cooper, Puck Daddy Editor

Lightning in 6

The Lightning are one of the deepest teams in the Eastern Conference. Even without captain Steven Stamkos and defenseman Anton Stralman they dispatched of the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first-round of the playoffs.

Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman and Ben Bishop’s are big-time difference makers for the Lightning, and all will make tough matchups for the Islanders. New York’s John Tavares is one of the best players in hockey, and was dominant in his team’s win over the Florida Panthers in the first-round. But he can’t beat the balanced Lightning by himself.

Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy Columnist

Lightning in 7

The Islanders are on a bit of a hot streak now, thanks to Thomas Greiss being really great and John Tavares playing some big-time hockey, but Tampa is probably a better team than the Panthers by a decent enough margin to make that not matter so much.

Even if you consider the starting-lineup situation a wash, Tampa's just got that depth, a more proven goalie, and a better coach. But it'll be a serious fight. Probably more OT ahead. That sort of thing.

Sam McCaig, Yahoo Sports NHL Editor

Lightning in 6

How can Tampa Bay keep winning in the playoffs without their best forward (Steven Stamkos) and best defenseman (Anton Stralman)? Because it turns out their best forward is Nikita Kucherov (surprise!) and their best defenseman is Victor Hedman (not a surprise). Plus, they still have their best goalie, Ben Bishop, and an up-and-coming core of young players who know all  about the playoff grind after making it to the Stanley Cup final last year.

Bishop, after another Vezina Trophy-caliber season, gives the Lightning an edge in net, with the Isles relying on backup Thomas Greiss to continue his solid play in place of injured starter Jaroslav Halak. The biggest obstacle between the Bolts and the Eastern Conference final is, of course, John Tavares.

If Tampa Bay can contain the Isles superstar, they'll earn the right to lose to the Penguins or Capitals in Round 3. If not, the Islanders have a chance to be fodder for Pittsburgh or Washington in the East final.

Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Puck Daddy Fantasy Writer

Islanders in 6

If the Ducks win, I'll be 8-0 in the first round again (last year). I'm on fire!

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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