Lightning vs. Rangers Game 1 NHL Pick: Upset Alert this Saturday in N.Y.

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, May 14, 2015 5:28 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 14, 2015 5:28 PM UTC

Our NHL handicapping professional previews Game 1 of the East Conference Finals between Tampa Bay & New York. Who will be the fresher team able to cover NHL odds? Find inside our free pick.

Game 1 of NHL Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday at MSG
The Rangers will host the Lightning in the opening game of their Eastern Conference Playoff series on Saturday at 1:05 PM ET. According to the NHL betting odds at Pinnacle, the Rangers are a -135 money line favorite, and the posted total is 5.0. These teams met four times during the regular season, and the Lightning came out on top each time. Three of those four games went over the total, and that includes each of the previous three.


Handicapping Conference Final Series Openers
I’ve had my fair share of success when wagering on conference finals series openers by using a foundational handicapping base. In this modern era of the NHL, in order to reach this stage of the playoffs, teams had won each of their first two series. My personal philosophy involves factors such as rest, physical toll, and mental fatigue.

The Lightning went through a somewhat demanding opening series versus the Red Wings that went a full seven games. Their second round series versus Montreal didn’t seem to present the same challenges they were faced with against Detroit. For starters, Tampa Bay had to overcome a 3-2 series deficit versus the Red Wings. Against Montreal, they quickly jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, and were never seriously threatened despite losing both Games 4 and 5. In Game 6 at home they were totally dominant in putting the Canadiens out of their misery.

The Rangers took an opposite path in their first two playoff series. From a superficial standpoint, they easily handled the Penguins in five games in the Eastern Quarterfinals. However, all five games in that series were decided by a narrow one goal margin. The next series versus Washington was extremely difficult both physically and mentally. They were forced to go a full seven games, each of the seven contests was decided by one goal, and the physical nature in which both clubs played was grueling to say the least. In addition, the Rangers were forced to rally from a 3-1 series deficit versus the Capitals, two of their final three wins came via overtime, and that included an emotional Game 7 at home which was decided in the first extra session.

Heading into Game 1 of this series on Saturday, I’m going to give Tampa Bay the edge in terms of the factors that were just discussed. The Rangers will also be playing with one less day of rest, and all twelve of their 2015 Stanley Cup Playoff contests were decided by one goal.


NHL Money Line Betting System
The Rangers finished their Eastern Conference Semifinal series by winning three consecutive one goal games over their Metropolitan Division rivals from Washington. When combining the Rangers regular season and playoff records, they possess a winning percentage of .649. The combination of those recent results and winning percentage formulates a successful money line betting angle, and I’ll certainly factor in that sound handicapping tool when making my NHL picks.

Play against any team on the money line, coming off two one goal wins in a row over a divisional opponent, and has a winning percentage of .600 to .700 on the season. When fading that team in this exact situation, it resulted in going 40-28 (58.8%) since 1996. The average money line of that team’s opponent was +126.8. Hypothetically, if you were to have followed this exact betting angle by wagering $100 a game it would have resulted in a profit of $2270.

NHL Pick: Play the Lightning +122 at Pinnacle.

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