The Lightning will strike New York in their season opener where they will take on the New York Rangers as they begin their quest for their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup appearance.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers
Tuesday, October 11, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Madison Square Garden
Tampa Bay Looking for Another Cup
The Lightning will ramp up for another run at the Cup only this time they will be without two important pieces, Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh, who were casualties of the salary cap.
However, Tampa Bay still has its core group together that is not only talented but battle-tested.
This team, barring a slew of injuries, will be a contender and if we look at how they started last season we see they dropped their opener to Pittsburgh and won only two of their first six games.
However, by the end of October, they had found their stride and began playing the brand of hockey that has catapulted them into the Stanley Cup Finals three years running.
Tampa Bay's Top Line
The Lightning have a powerful top line consisting of the ageless Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov.
If there are better first lines in hockey then they don’t beat this triumvirate by much.
Tampa Bay also boasts one of the best blueliners in the game in Victor Hedman who tallied 85 points in the 82 games he played.
A perennial Norris Trophy contender, Hedman is the straw that stirs the drink on defense.
Tampa Bay's Defense
And speaking of defense, the last line of it for the Lightning happens to be one of the best on the planet in the form of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The 28-year-old Russian sensation is a four-time All-Star and former Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
When he’s at his best there might be no other goalie who’s better, except the one who opposes him on Tuesday night.
Eastern Conference Finals Rematch
The Rangers met the Lightning in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals and took the first two games by scores of 6-2 and 3-2 but once they hit the road to meet the Bolts in their own sandbox it was lights out.
Tampa Bay would win the next four games and advance to the Stanley Cup courtesy of a 4-2 series victory over the Blueshirts.
There is little doubt the Rangers would like to repay the Lightning for ousting them from the playoffs but if they are to do that then goalie Igor Shesterkin will have to play on par with his Vezina Trophy-winning self from last season.
Yes, Shesterkin was nothing short of stellar tending the twine last season as evidenced by his 2.07 GAA and 9.35 save percentage.
The Rangers also boast a solid core of defensemen and should be able to at least contain the Lightning from lighting the lamp too often.
Kaapo Kakko has been a breath of fresh air in the preseason and it looks like we will land on the top line along with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad if things go as planned. Kakko scored three goals in the Rangers’ final two preseason games.
After their preseason finale, a 3-1 loss to the Islanders, head coach Gerard Gallant said, “He had a great goal tonight, he probably should’ve had a couple more goals tonight. But overall, he’s been real good at training camp. It’s good for that kid.”
- The home team is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings between these teams.
- Favorite is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings between these teams.
- Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in New York between these teams.
- Under is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings between these teams.
- Under is 10-1 in Lightning's last 11 vs. the Eastern Conference.
- Under is 5-0 in the Rangers' last 5 vs. the Eastern Conference.
- Under is 5-0 in the Rangers' last 5 vs. the Atlantic Division.
Lightning vs. Rangers: Pick and Prediction
It’s the first game of the season for these clubs so it’s hard to speculate how they will respond after a long offseason. There is no need to bet the rent on this game as these teams are extremely similar in talent and will likely see each other again in the playoffs this season.
Both clubs have impressive rosters, but if we review how these teams stacked up last year, we can see that the Lightning had a slightly better offense while the Rangers’ defense was second to only Carolina’s last season.
And it will probably be a similar comparison this season, but the Rangers have bolstered their roster while the loss of Ryan McDonough is going to hurt the Lightning more than I think they even know.
Let’s lay the small price on the home chalk and go under the posted total, with the trends more than supporting us in our contention that this will be a low-scoring affair with two of the best in the world between the pipes.
Predicted Score: Rangers 3 - Lightning 1
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.