NHL Playoffs 2022: Odds, Hot Takes, Top Storylines for June 1 Schedule
The NHL Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning is expected to be the complete opposite type of series than the Western Conference Final.
The Rangers and Lightning will be lucky if they score six goals once in the series given how well Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy have played in net.
Both teams may combine for fewer goals than the Edmonton Oilers netted in their 8-6 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.
The Lightning own the best goals against total of the four remaining teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers have the second-worst number in that category, but their shot defending got much better over the final few games against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tampa Bay should have the advantage in Game 1 on Wednesday night because they are well rested and carry experience from the last two postseasons.
New York has the edge on home ice, but away games did not deter the Lightning in their last series, when they swept the Florida Panthers.
Game 1 Odds
Money Line: Tampa Bay (-130; bet $130 to win $100); New York (+110; bet $100 to win $100)
Puck Line: Tampa Bay (-1.5; +185), New York (+1.5; -225)
Goalies Should Dominate Series
Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy were fantastic in the first two rounds of the postseason.
The two netminders have the best save percentages of the four goalies remaining in the playoffs.
Vasilevskiy owns a .932 postseason save percentage, and he owns the most experience of any remaining goalie from his two Stanley Cup wins with the Lightning.
Vasilevskiy has an edge over any goalie at this stage of the season because of his experience, but Shesterkin will try to match his form.
Shesterkin has a .928 save percentage, and he leads the postseason with 474 saves. He has 74 more denials than Edmonton's Mike Smith in second place.
New York may not match Tampa Bay's defensive strengths, but it can level the balance of power in the series through its goalie.
Shesterkin made 37 saves in each of the final two games against the Carolina Hurricanes, and he has 30 or more saves in nine postseason contests.
The Rangers should show signs of fatigue after going seven games with the Hurricanes, but if Shesterkin remains strong in net, that may not matter since one or two goals may win the game.
Lightning Should Have Edge in Game 1 Because of Rest
Tampa Bay handled the Florida Panthers with ease in the second round.
The Lightning last played on May 23, while the Rangers just went through an exhausting seven-game series that ended on Monday.
New York has the advantage of returning home for Game 1, but that is where the list of edges ends for the Rangers.
Jon Cooper's Lightning is well rested, which is a commodity that is hard to come by in a postseason where teams play every other day.
Tampa Bay has experience playing in all different types of situations in the postseason from its back-to-back Stanley Cup runs.
The extended layoff should not bother the Lightning, nor should the boisterous crowd inside Madison Square Garden.
Tampa Bay owns four road wins from its first two series against Florida and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning conceded one goal in each of their last three postseason road trips.
As long as the defense remains solid, Tampa Bay should go into New York and pick up at least one game. That victory could come in Game 1 against a tired Rangers team.
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