NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers

NHL Hockey Betting:  Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers

For a number of years now the Tampa Bay Lightning have been known as a great offensive team with a porous defense. That’s changed this year due in large part to the emergence of Ben Bishop as a competent NHL goaltender. They’ll need him to raise his game bigtime, however, if they’re going to get out of this series against the New York Rangers and their goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is one of the best in the world and the reason that the Rangers are still playing hockey in mid-May.

The Rangers are three games away from their second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals but they haven’t looked overly impressive for most of the playoffs. In fact, New York has set a NHL record with fifteen straight playoff games decided by a single goal. Thirteen of those games were played this year resulting in tougher than necessary series against the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers’ offense finished the regular season ranked #3 in the NHL scoring over 3 goals per game but they’ve dropped off badly during the postseason now averaging only two goals per game. Part of this is due to the tight checking nature of playoff hockey but the simple fact is that the Rangers’ offense has disappeared. Rick Nash has been a complete non-factor and the Rangers have been forced to live or die on the performance of Lundqvist.

Tampa Bay’s scoring is off during the postseason and their leading scorer, Steven Stamkos, has struggled. They’ve still got more scoring depth than the Rangers and that could eventually be the difference in this series. Strange that the Lightning are perceived as a solid underdog to the Rangers–Tampa had the #1 offense in hockey this year along with the best home record in the NHL. Most significantly, they beat the Rangers all four times they played during the regular season.

The perception that the Rangers are vastly superior continues despite a hard fought Game One. This game is much closer than the price suggests but, then again, all of the Rangers’ games during the playoffs have been that way. We’ll take the underdog here.