The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers are tied through four wild games of the Eastern Conference final, which makes the remainder of the series a best-of-three. That means Game 5 is a pivotal one as the two sides are set to clash.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Can Win Because…
They are going to get back to playing how they normally play. In Game 4, the Lightning got off their game. They took a whopping 36 penalty minutes, 34 of which came in the third period. Yes, things got chippy but they were down 3-1 in the third before a pair of third period goals pushed the Rangers lead out of reach.
The other factor to take into account is that Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head in Game 4. Yes, he’s capable of doing that but the Lightning showed in Games 2 and 3 of this series that he’s quite beatable. They peppered him with shots and came away with 12 goals in those games. In Game 4, they fired 39 shots at home and only got past him once. If they do the same, they are likely to get much more than one goal. Also, their power play went 0-for-4. Their power play had gone 5-of-12 through the first three games, so if they get four more power plays in Game 5, expect them to cash in.
The New York Rangers Can Win Because…
They finally played much better. In Game 3, the Rangers showed that they can get into high-scoring affairs if necessary but the reality is that they are a team better suited for low-scoring, conservative games. They need to be holding the Lightning to two goals or less to get the win. They did that in Game 4 and easily rolled. Apparently Rick Nash getting everyone together for a team meeting to watch Entourage proved to be a game-changer.
Momentum is clearly with the Rangers as a lot of things went right for them in Game 4. Martin St. Louis finally scored, Rick Nash had a huge game and the Rangers had no problems breaking through Ben Bishop for a second straight outing. While all of the heat has been on King Henrik and the 12 goals he allowed through Games 3 and 4, the truth is that the Rangers have had little problems with Bishop in the last two games. They’ve netted 11 goals on him and the difference is the amount of shots. While Lundqvist allowed 12 goals on 66 shots, Bishop has given up 11 goals on just 52 shots.
Now that the Rangers have figured him out, look for them to come home and play far more efficiently than they did the last time these teams were at MSG (in Game 2).
We’ve seen an average of 8.3 goals per game over the last three contests, yet we’re again faced with a total of five. It makes sense to go over. Even Game 1 was a high-flying affair and while it only resulted in three goals, that’s because both goaltenders stood on their heads. Sure, it’s possible that Game 5 is a conservatively played game but the track record so far in this series suggests over on the NHL odds is the right choice for your NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Over 5 at The Greek