NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers

NHL Hockey Betting:  Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers

Sunday evening hockey features the fifth game of the Eastern Conference Finals as the New York Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning. This has been a see-saw series throughout and the Rangers are coming off a Game Four blowout at the Amalie Arena that tied the series at 2-2. That sets up Game Five as perhaps the most pivotal game yet as the loser will be facing elimination in Game Six. The Rangers don’t want to head to Tampa with their backs up against the wall on ‘enemy ice’ while the Lightning don’t want to have to play a decisive Game Seven at Madison Square Garden.

At this stage it’s apparent that these teams are evenly matched. That makes the analysis of statistics–regular season or playoffs–somewhat useless. The Rangers are known for their defense but they can put the puck in the net. The Lightning are known for their offense but they can play and win in tight, close checking games. There’s also an adage about betting against teams in ‘must win’ situations but that’s not as readily applicable when it comes down to a matchup between the league’s elite teams. The ‘go against teams in must win spots’ works well against mediocre teams trying to make the postseason but not so much with top teams trying to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Basically, we’ve got a coin flip situation and in that case ‘probability 101’ puts us on the underdog. We’ve already discussed how this game is pivotal for both sides but Tampa Bay will certainly be looking to atone for the horrible showing they put up in front of their hometown fans in Game Four. Tampa Bay has been great in ‘bounce back’ situations this season. They’re 12-6 after a loss by 2+ goals this year, 15-5 after allowing four or more goals and 12-3 after scoring 1 goal or less in their previous game.

Ultimately, it’s simple handicapping theory that gets us on the Lightning. This game is a coinflip between evenly matched teams and laying money on either side of a coin flip is negative EV. Taking plus money is a long term profitable strategy and that’s what we’re doing here.