The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning have engaged in a couple of high-scoring affairs in Games 2 and 3, and that’s suited the Lightning just fine. Now the Rangers will try to adjust and even up the series at two games apiece.
The New York Rangers Can Win Because…
They are going to play better defensively. They have to. The Rangers have been sluggish over the last couple of games, giving up a whopping 12 goals. To put that in perspective, the Rangers only gave up a total of 12 goals in the entire seven-game, second-round series against the Washington Capitals. At publication time there were no NHL betting odds available, so I suggest you keep checking before placing your picks.
The Rangers have long been one of the best defensive teams in the NHL and we saw what they’re capable of in Game 1. If it wasn’t clear before, they know now that they need to impose their will on the Lightning and dictate their pace to get the job done.
The good news for the Rangers is that they’ve been able to meet the Lightning in terms of tempo and play at their speed, and they’ve been close. They got blown out in Game 2 but in Game 3, there were 11 goals and the Rangers had a shot to steal the game.
If the Rangers can tighten things up on the defensive end, they should be in good shape to steal Game 4 and get back home-ice advantage.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Can Win Because…
They’ve owned the Rangers defense. They’ve now scored 12 goals in the last two games and are flat-out rolling. Remember, this is the team that led the NHL in goals scored per game, yet had a really rough start to the playoffs. Remember, they had only 10 goals in their first four playoff games. Even in the second round, they totaled just 13 goals in the first five games. However, they’ve been clicking ever since. They now have 17 goals in their last four outings and are getting contributions from everyone. Sure, Tyler Johnson is on fire as he has been this entire playoffs but Steve Stamkos has finally shown up too. He has four points this series and 11 points in his last eight playoff games. With the Lightning rolling two solid lines, the Rangers don’t seem to have any answers for them.
Most importantly, the Lightning are dragging the Rangers into high-scoring affairs. As we saw in the opening round, Tampa Bay struggles in low-scoring affairs as they barely got by the Detroit Red Wings. However, in these free-wheeling, high-scoring games, the Lightning have no problems. If they can continue to dictate the pace again, which they should since they’re at home, they are the better choice for your NHL picks.
The Lightning have the NHL’s best home-ice advantage, so don’t expect them to ease up in Game 4. They should – again – have a clear edge playing in front of their home fans. They won more games at home than any other team in the NHL this regular season.
With a total of five on the board, it’s hard not to go over. The last two games have been crushing the over and even though Game 1 was a low-scoring affair, it was a fast-paced game with tons of scoring opportunities. It probably should have gone over. I look for Game 4 to go over the number again.
NHL Pick: Over at GT Bets