Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers Betting Preview
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals is set between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers, which is bound to be an entertaining series. The Lightning entered the playoffs as the third team in the Atlantic Division, while the Rangers entered as the second team in the Metropolitan Division.
The back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay, completed the sweep of the Florida Panthers and have been off since May 23. The Rangers finished off the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games and have a home-ice advantage this series.
During the regular season, the Lightning and Rangers played each other three times, with two of the games played in Tampa Bay. The Rangers won all three games with 4-3, 4-0, and 2-1 wins.
Can the Lightning keep up the consistency in net?
In the first two series of the playoffs, the Lightning advanced by beating the Maple Leafs in seven games and sweeping the Panthers in four. The Lightning are making a run for their third straight Stanley Cup and have done so with dominance despite being underdogs throughout.
This playoffs, the Lightning have scored 36 total goals, which is ranked sixth in the league. Their 3.27 average per game is seventh in the league and last amongst the remaining playoff teams. Tampa Bay averages 31.0 shots per game which is also last amongst the final four teams.
Nikita Kucherov leads the team with 15 points and 11 assists, with Victor Hedman in second with 10 points. Captain Steven Stamkos has been quieter than normal, with just eight points in 11 games this playoffs. Look for him to step up this series.
In net, the Lightning have been blessed with the play from Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has a 2.22 GAA and SV% of .932. He has played all 11 games this playoffs and will likely continue to do so as he continues to dominate opponents by allowing just four goals in the last five games, including a shutout to complete the sweep over the Panthers.
In special teams, the Lightning have the lowest-ranked power play amongst the final four with a PP% of 22.9%. When shorthanded, Tampa Bay has the best penalty kill unit amongst the final four with a PK% of 87.8%.
Both special teams and 5v5 lines will need to be top tier heading into this series as they are again the underdog. The chase for three straight cups continues.
Will the Rangers continue high goal scoring?
The New York Rangers head into the Eastern Conference finals following two series that ended in a Game 7 win for the Rangers.
The Rangers have found some luck playing against the Penguins and Hurricanes, who both had injuries to their regular season starting goalies and could face reality against their third round opponent.
The Rangers have scored the second-most goals this playoffs with 48 total and are fifth with an average of 3.43 goals scored per game. Their 3.43 average has them ranked third amongst the remaining four teams.
New York has been led by Mika Zibanejad, who has 19 points which is third-most this playoffs. He has helped linemate Chris Kreider score a team-leading eight goals this playoffs, which is tied for third in the playoffs.
Like their Eastern Conference Finals opponent, the Rangers have been stellar in net, with Igor Shesterkin leading the way. He also has started in all games this playoffs and has a 2.68 GAA and a .928 SV% which is second-best amongst the final four teams.
During the regular season, Shesterkin started in all games against Tampa Bay and had a 3-0 record with a 1.30 GAA and .958 SV%, including a 38-save shutout.
When the Rangers have a man advantage, they are the second-best team this playoffs with a PP% of 32.5%. On the penalty kill, the Rangers have a PK% of 80.5%, ranked eighth this playoffs and third amongst the final four.
Look for the Rangers to face a challenge on offense as they face one of the NHL’s top goalies and the best by far they have faced this playoffs. Shesterkin will need to continue shining in net as he will need to be the better goalie between the two teams.
Lightning/Rangers Betting Prediction
Throughout the playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers have earned themselves the chance to be the team from the East to head the Stanley Cup Finals.
Both teams know how to score, but more importantly, they know how to stop the puck. Vezina candidates, Vasilevskiy and Shesterkin, have been dominant this playoffs and are the top remaining goalies left to play.
These two teams played in some low-scoring and high-scoring games, with both averaging over five goals total in games. In Lightning games this playoffs, an average of 5.72 goals are scored, while the Rangers games have averaged 6.42 goals per game.
With both starting goalies that are considered some of the league’s best, the play to look at is the under, which has been a result in five of the last seven games for the Rangers and in five straight games for the Lightning.
In Game 1 of this Eastern Conference Final, take the under at 5.5 in what is expected to be a low-scoring game between two elite goalies.
Free Pick: Under -5.5 (-110)