Lightning vs. Rangers Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 1 Best Bets

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Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tracks a puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during Game Seven. Claus Andersen/Getty Images/AFP

The Eastern Conference Finals drop on Wednesday night when the gritty New York Rangers host the speedy Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. Let’s analyze this Game 1 matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers 

Wednesday, June 01, 2022 – 08:00 PM ETD at Madison Square Garden

NHL Playoffs Highlights: The Lightning

It took seven games for the Lightning to dispatch the Maple Leafs in the opening round of the playoffs but then they cruised to a four-game sweep of the President’s Trophy-winning Florida Panthers in the following round.  

The Bolts have been awaiting their Eastern Conference Finals opponent since May 23rd and after over a week to heal their bumps and bruises they will travel to the Big Apple to meet the Broadway Blueshirts for their NHL Game 1.

In their last game, a 2-0 series-clinching victory over the Panthers at home, the teams were scoreless through the first two periods before Pat Maroon notched his second goal of the postseason to draw first blood. And that would be all the scoring needed as Ondrej Palat clinched the series with an empty netter with only 23 seconds remaining. 

Andrei Vasilevskiy Playoffs Performance

But the story of the game, and the series, was the preternatural play of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who turned aside all 49 of the Panthers’ shots. The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner was a rock throughout the series, allowing just three goals over the four games and registering a mind-numbing .978 save percentage.  

The 27-year-old Russian superstar was merely mortal in the first round against the Maple Leafs when he posted a 3.42 goals-against average and a save percentage of .895. Not the kind of numbers one would expect of a goaltender who is universally acknowledged as one of the top five in the world.  

Lightning coach, Jon Cooper, said, “It's never a doubt in our locker room. A goalie's job, if you want to be elite, is to give your team a chance to win. When a goaltender gives your team a chance to win, it comes in a variety of ways. Tonight, it was he wasn’t letting anything in. And we’ve seen that time and time again.” 

NHL Playoffs Highlights: The Rangers

After staring at a 3-1 deficit, the Rangers roared back and claimed a 4-3 series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.

Little did they know, they would face an equally stern test against the Hurricanes but they weathered yet another storm. The Rangers came out the other side with another seventh and deciding game victory against the Hurricanes.

The Carolina series was expected to be a defensive struggle against a team that led the league in goals-against average with a 2.44 to end the regular season. But New York would not be facing the sublime Frederik Andersen, who ended as the No. 2 regular-season goalie with a 2.17 GAA, patrolling the crease due to injury.  

Instead, the Hurricanes were forced to use their backup, Antti Raanta, a more than serviceable replacement but without the All-World abilities of his counterpart.

To make matters worse for Carolina, Raanta struggled at times throughout the series and would eventually succumb to what has been reported as a right leg injury midway through Game 7 forcing him to leave the game.  

Igor Shesterkin Goaltending Stats

New York goalie, Igor Shesterkin, was once again a rockstar between the pipes for the Rangers. In what has become a star-studded Russian goaltender pipeline to the NHL, Shesterkin could very well be the best of the bunch.  

The Moscow native led the league in goals-against average (2.07) and save percentage (.935) at the end of the regular season and is a virtual lock for the Vezina Trophy, as well as a candidate for the Hart Trophy. Shesterkin earned the No. 1 star in the Rangers’ 6-2 series-clinching road victory over the Hurricanes by saving 37 of 39 shots.  

Lightning vs. Rangers Betting Trends

Side Trends

  • The Rangers are 1-6 in their last 7 games as an underdog. 
  • The Lightning are 6-0 in their last 6 overall. 
  • The Lightning are 5-1 in their last 6 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game. 
  • The Lightning are 6-0 in their last 6 vs. a team with a winning record. 

Total Trends 

  • The under is 5-0 in the Lightning’s last 5 overall. 
  • The under is 5-0 in the Lightning’s last 5 games following a win. 
  • The under is 4-0 in the Lightning’s last 4 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game. 
  • The under is 4-1 in the Rangers’ last 5 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game. 

How to Bet on Lightning vs. Rangers Game 1 

The consensus NHL odds at all of the best online sportsbooks are tagging the Bolts as -125 road chalk and it’s not all that surprising considering they will be well-rested to continue their playoff dominance versus a team that only had one day off since their second consecutive grueling seven-game series.

Unless Tampa Bay comes out rusty from the break, they should have a major advantage over what will likely be a gassed Rangers squad. 

As for the total, we have two of the best tenders of the twine on the face of the earth in Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin.

I could contrive a scenario that would make me appear to be a savvy contrarian but the truth is these two goalies will be showcased on Wednesday night. And unless New York’s defense fails to show, this looks like a hot spot for going low in this one.  

NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning ML (-125) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review

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Tampa Bay Lightning ML (-125)
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NHL Pick: Under 5 ½ (-103) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 5 ½ (-103)
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*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.