Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals series between Tampa Bay and New York has all the makings of a classic. Join us in reading our resident NHL handicapping professional’s enlightening betting preview article on this contest that culminates with a money line selection.
Pivotal Eastern Conference Finals Game 5
The Rangers and Lightning will square off in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday at 8:05 PM ET. According to the NHL odds at Bookmaker, the Rangers are a -130 money line favorite, and the posted total is 5.0. The series is tied at two games apiece following a 5-1 blowout road win by the Rangers on Friday. These clubs have now seen each of the previous three games of this series go over the total, and six of their seven overall meetings during the 2014-2015 NHL campaign have surpassed the number.
Rangers Power Play Sizzling Hot
The New York Rangers have gone a terrific 6-for-13 (46.2%) on the power play during the previous three games. It’s by no coincidence, they’ve scored twelve goals overall during that time. “The Blue Shirts” have lit the lamp five times in each of the previous two games, and Friday marked the first time during these playoffs that they scored more than two goals in consecutive games.
Lundquist rebounds in a Huge Way
The Rangers all world goaltender Henrik Lundquist was absolutely terrible in Games 2 and 3 of this series. During those games, he allowed a combined twelve goals, and had a horrible .818 save percentage. His performance in Game 3 was especially costly during a Rangers 6-5 loss. That defeat was culminated by a very soft overtime goal allowed by Lundquist, and one that he’d in all likelihood stop 99 of 100 times. However, with the Rangers backed up against the wall in Game 4, Lundquist turned in one of his vintage performances that have been so prevalent throughout his career. He stopped 38 of 39 Tampa Bay shots on goal, and it certainly was a welcomed sight for Rangers fans, players, and coaching staff alike.
Bishop showing Vulnerability
One of the main reasons why the Tampa Bay Lightning has reached this stage of the playoffs has been due to the superb play of Ben Bishop in goal. Unfortunately, the 6’8 backstop has been exposed in the last two games of this series, and it’s certainly a cause for concern. In those two contests, Bishop has allowed ten goals on just 52 shots, and compiled a pathetic .808 save percentage in doing so. In order for the Lightning to regain home ice advantage in this series, they need Bishop to get well quick in Game 5.
Special Teams Play Key for Lightning in Game 5
After going an outstanding 5-for-12 on the power play in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, Tampa Bay went 0-for-4 with the man advantage in their Game 4 loss. As I alluded to earlier in this article regarding the recent success of the Rangers power play, Tampa Bay’s penalty killing has left a lot to be desired in the previous three games of this series. If the Lightning hope to capture Game 5, and proceed to win this series, they must put together stellar performances in both aspects of their special teams play.
Just when it seemed like Tampa Bay had seized control of this series by winning two games in a row, they fell flat on their face in Game 4 at home. The Rangers regained the momentum, and took back home ice advantage with a convincing win on Friday. Playing in front of what promises to be a raucous home crowd at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, don’t expect the Rangers to squander a golden opportunity to once again take the series lead. I’m siding with the home side in this huge game for one of my NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Play the Rangers -130 on the money line at Bookmaker