NHL playoff picks: Back the Bolts to seal Stanley Cup Final berth
Andy Devlin / National Hockey League / Getty

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The Dallas Stars are the gift that keeps on giving. Oddsmakers hung another terrible price and we pounced again, taking our Round 3 record to a tidy 7-1.

Like the Stars, let's finish strong.

New York Islanders (+160) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (-180)

There is a lot about this Islanders team that makes them easy to like. They're fiery and resilient, and they play a smart brand of hockey while leaving it all out on the ice on a nightly basis. But they're also tired.

New York has been playing intense playoff hockey since Aug. 1. While the team battled the Florida Panthers in the play-ins, the Lightning were coasting through the round-robin games. When the Islanders were exhausting their way through a seven-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers - including three overtime contests - Tampa Bay was recharging following a quick and straightforward series win over the Boston Bruins.

The Islanders have played a lot of hard minutes in these playoffs - Barry Trotz's system demands a lot from his players, and it's not uncommon for the wear and tear to catch up to them. And the fact of the matter is, you need a full tank to beat the Lightning.

New York is wearing down and Tampa Bay simply has too much firepower to overcome at less than full strength. There are no shifts off against the Bolts. They're four lines, three pairings, and a Vezina goalie deep. They come at you hard, and they come at you often.

To make matters worse for the Islanders, Casey Cizikas has officially been ruled out for the remainder of the series. Cizikas is a heart-and-soul guy and an integral part of New York's outstanding energy line. He's a key cog on the penalty kill, a spark plug, and someone who does all the little things.

It's been a great playoff run for the Islanders, and while it will offer little consolation right now, they're going to be very good again next season. But the Lightning have been the better team in this series, they're the most complete team in the NHL, and they will secure a deserved place in the Stanley Cup Final.

Pick: Lightning to win in regulation (-105)

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

NHL playoff picks: Back the Bolts to seal Stanley Cup Final berth
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