Fresh off a heart-stopping Game 7 win in their second-round series, the New York Rangers began the Eastern Conference Finals with a bang against the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning the first two games on their home ice.
Tampa Bay has fought back with three consecutive wins, including Thursday’s 3-1 triumph in which it scored twice in the final two minutes, to take a 3-2 series lead.
While the Rangers began the series with home-ice advantage, the Lightning began the series as clear favorites in this matchup so nailing the first two games was an absolute must for New York. Now that the Lightning are ahead in the series, they are once again favored to win the series. DraftKings New York and BetMGM New York both give Tampa Bay -500 odds to win the series.
If you believe in another Rangers postseason comeback, you can get a hefty price of +400 at DraftKings and +375 at BetMGM.
The Rangers were 3-0 against the Lightning in the regular season, but everyone knows not to count on regular-season records when it comes to the playoffs. As two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, the Lightning began the series as betting favorites in the series against the Rangers. They’re also coming off series wins against heavyweights Florida and Toronto, who have more developed rosters than the Rangers.
Can’t-miss sportsbook offers: New York sports betting bonuses for Rangers’ Stanley Cup Playoffs run
Best Betting Odds for the NHL Eastern Conference Finals
New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Series Preview
The real story here? An epic showdown between two of the best goalies in the world: Igor Shesterkin vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Vasilevskiy is a seasoned veteran with back-to-back Stanley Cup wins under his belt. Shesterkin is the up-and-coming superstar, perhaps the only goalie who can match Vasilevskiy save for save.
The Rangers had to fight through to Game 7 in each of the past two series and will only get one day of rest before the next series starts. The Lightning swept their last series against the Panthers on May 23 and have had plenty of time to prep for the conference finals.
However, the Rangers have proved to be a scrappy and determined team. With Shesterkin in goal, they have a chance to beat the odds this year. In their Game 7 win against the Hurricanes, Shesterkin made 37 saves to help the Rangers win handily 6-2. Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider have been somewhat uneven in the postseason but also made some big plays to save the team. We’ll see how the Rangers’ top-heavy lineup does against the Lightning on short rest.
On the Tampa Bay side, Brayden Point is still questionable for Wednesday’s first Rangers vs. Lightning game, but having Point sidelined by an injury didn’t slow the Lightning down since they lost him in Round 1 against the Maple Leafs. With a formidable lineup that includes Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli, Ondrej Palat, and Alex Killorn, they’ve averaged 3.27 points per game in the postseason compared to the Rangers’ 3.23.
Another surprising statistic: Tampa Bay is the largest series favorite without home-ice advantage in the conference finals since 1988. And, conference finals favorites without the home-ice advantage have prevailed 6 out of 8 times.
Assuming the ECF series price holds – Tampa Bay would be the largest series favorite without home-ice advantage in the Conference Finals since 1988 (as far as available).
Series favorites without home-ice in the Conference Finals have reached the Stanley Cup Finals 6 of 8 times. https://t.co/DKkcAySQmu
— SportsOddsHistory.com (@SOHistory) May 31, 2022
Despite the Lightning’s status as favorites, we’re excited to see what the Rangers might pull off at MSG this week.
How to Watch the New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
|Date||Time||Location||Where to Watch|
|Wednesday, June 1||Lightning 2||@Rangers 6||Rangers lead series 1-0|
|Friday, June 3||Lightning 2||@Rangers 3||Rangers lead series 2-0|
|Sunday, June 5||Rangers 2||@Lightning 3||Rangers lead series 2-1|
|Tuesday, June 7||Rangers 1||@Lightning 4||Series tied 2-2|
|*Thursday, June 9||8 p.m. ET||@Rangers||ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS|
|*Saturday, June 11||8 p.m. ET||@Lightning||ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS|
|*Tuesday, June 14||8 p.m. ET||@Rangers||ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS|
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II