Extending their home winning streak to seven games, the New York Rangers picked up where they left off from the previous series and comprehensively bullied Tampa Bay 6-2 in Game 1.
When it comes to NHL playoff odds, in a 24-hour span, the Rangers have morphed from +150 underdogs to marginal -120 favorites to advance, leaving the Lightning as +100 marginal dark horses.
The drastic shift in NHL betting odds signifies just how much momentum and confidence by overturning the 3-2 series deficit against the favored Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers have gained.
They flung out of the gates in Game 1 like Elon Musk’s Next-Generation Rocket. At least that’s how it appeared against a visibly sluggish, overrested Lightning team. Teams coming off a Game 7 victory are now 8-0 against those in their first game back after a sweep.
Even the back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning Lightning, who looked like they’d slept through multiple alarms, couldn’t defy those odds.
Lightning vs. Rangers Odds, Moneyline, Over/Under
Moneyline: Lightning (-125) | Rangers (+105)
Spread: Lightning -1.5 (+220) | Rangers +1.5 (-278)
Total: 5.5 Over +100 | 5.5 Under -120
Lightning vs. Rangers Analysis
The Rangers were surprisingly outshot 39-34 in Game 1, yet again relying on Igor Shesterkin’s Cirque du Soleil-like movement to stymie Tampa at almost every turn.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, who allowed six goals on 34 shots for an underwhelming .824 save percentage, endured a rare off night. The 27-year-old netminder also had a couple of games he’d like to forget in the first round against the Maple Leafs.
Vasilevskiy’s 17-0 record after a loss since the start of the 2019-20 season will once again be on the line Friday night.
#GoBolts Andrei Vasilevskiy following a playoff loss since 2020
Save % .942
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 13, 2022
That record, for obvious reasons, was never in jeopardy against the Florida Panthers in the second round.
If you’re wondering when that inconceivable stat will, as all good things have to, come to an end, you’re in the same head space, other than Vasilevskiy and his teammates, as everyone who shows an interest in hockey.
The Lightning probably believe their flawless, preposterous undefeated streak can continue in perpetuity. That unwavering belief is exactly why Tampa is vying for their third straight Stanley Cup.
While that 17-0 record has to come to an end at some point, don’t expect it to fall in Game 2.
The Lightning received a stiff jab to the face in Game 1, the type of abrasive, unforgiving wakeup call that should stir a champion’s response.
The Rangers deserve rapturous plaudits for how they acquitted themselves in the 6-2 win. They were finally able to dominate proceedings at full strength and didn’t need to rely entirely on their second-best, 33.3%-proficient power-play.
With that being said, the Rangers still managed a 50% success rate with the man advantage, going 1-for-2.
New York’s five-goal five-on-five outburst should concern Jon Cooper, who will be cognizant of the need to tighten up the neutral zone and find a way to spend more time in the Rangers’ end. They also need to get productivity from their power-play, which went 0-for-3.
The question looming over the Eastern Conference Final is whether the Rangers’ indisputable superiority in Game 1 was due to their exceptional all-around performance, or because of Tampa having just woken up from what seemed like a summer-long coma.
While nobody should undercut the Rangers’ superb Game 1 outing, Tampa’s lopsided defeat appeared to be more a case of their collective lethargy and inability to shake off residual rust.
Expect the Lightning, who are 2-0 in Game 2’s, to rebound expertly and continue their Game 2 success in a low-scoring, tight-checking game they’ve built their identity on.
Lightning vs. Rangers Best Bets
Spread: Lightning -1.5 (+220)
Moneyline: Lightning (-125)
Total: Under 5.5 (-120)