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2021-22 New York Islanders preview: Predicted record and point total, plus two Eastern Conference best bets

Will the Islanders finally find the right formula to get past the Lightning and reach the Stanley Cup Final?
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The Islanders, who have lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals for two straight seasons, bring back mostly the entire roster from last season, though the team jettisoned Jordan Eberle to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. New York signed Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara to add to this talented roster, and adding Chara to this suffocating defensive is smart. 

New York has superstar Mathew Barzal, who posted 17 goals and 28 helpers in 55 games last season. In four full seasons, Barzal has 252 points in 289 games. He might reach the 30-goal mark this season. I think Oliver Wahlstrom is on the cusp of a big season after posting 21 points in 53 games last season.

Barry Trotz is a brilliant coach. He won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals (2017-18) in his fourth season with the team, and this will be Trotz's fourth season with the Islanders. Since 2019, New York has won five postseason series and 28 total games, second most to the Lightning.

The Islanders have more B+ players than any other team in the Eastern Conference. The two goalies are outstanding. Varlamov had a 2.04 GAA and Sorokan posted a 2.17 GAA last season. They just need to stay healthy so the Islanders can rotate those two studs game to game.

This is one hungry team playing in the same exact system for four years. The Islanders should win the Eastern Conference this season after Tampa Bay pulls back a tad.

New York Lightning Prediction: (48-27-7, No. 4 seed in East, 103 points)

Eastern Conference Season Point Total best bets: New Islanders Over 99.5 points -115, Montreal Canadians Under 90.5 points -125

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Jeff HochmanWest Coast Wiseguy