Rangers Waste Little Time Taking Command of the Eastern Conference Finals
After a grueling seven-game series against the favored Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Rangers hit the ice at Madison Square Garden for the opening content in the Eastern Conference Finals as the underdog against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Follow along as we break down the Lightning vs Rangers betting odds.
Any thoughts that New York might be a step slow against a Tampa Bay team that had a week off after its sweep of Florida didn’t last for very long.
Veteran winger Chris Kreider scored just 1:11 into the game while Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad put the game away with third-period goals as the Rangers rolled to a 6-2 win.
It was the first time since 1994 that the Rangers scored at least five goals in three straight playoff games. Speaking of streaks, the Lightning are 17-0 following a loss in the postseason over the last three seasons, however, only one of those games was on the road.
Seven teams in the Eastern Conference had better odds to win the Eastern Conference title than the Rangers coming into the season so those who believed in the Rangers could be pretty happy in the coming days.
For the first time this year, the Rangers have better odds to win the Stanley Cup title than the Lightning. The odds for the Rangers moved from +550 to +325 after the Game 1 win. Tampa Bay’s odds fell from +225 to +375.
Lightning vs Rangers Game Information
- Game: Lightning (51-23-8 in the regular season) Rangers (52-24-6)
- Location: Madison Square Garden
- Day/Time: Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN
Tough Opener for Defending Champion Tampa Bay
The usual suspects showed up as the Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves tied with the host New York Rangers midway through Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat had the goals for the Lightning. It was looking like the Tampa Bay Lightning were in position to steal another postseason game on the road.
Unfortunately for Lightning fans, they failed to beat Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin on their final 22 shots on goal and they didn’t score on three power plays in the third period.
Tampa Bay outshot the Rangers 39-34 and the shots came from the most dangerous player. Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning’s leading scorer in the playoffs, had seven shots on goal and Stamkos had six to go with six hits.
The good news for the Lightning is they will have multiple chances to try to win at Madison Square Garden including in Friday’s Game 2.
“Certainly not our best game,” Stamkos said after the game. “They’re a team that has some really good players, and if you give them those chances, they’re going to bury them. I don’t care what the situation is. There were opportunities for us to make some better reads and some better plays, and it wasn’t there tonight. This group has bounced back always. We’ll bounce back.”
Chytil and Linemates Growing Up
There were times this season when first-round pick Filip Chytil was a healthy scratch by New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. Gallant wanted to see the 22-year-old Chytil use his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame to have more of an impact on games.
Gallant had no complaints about what he saw from Chytil in the first game of the Eastern Conference Final. Chytil scored twice in the second period to snap a 2-2 tie and help the Rangers jump out on top with a 6-2 win.
Gallant put Chytil together with 2020 No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, who was taken second overall in 2019, late in the regular season. It was a curious move as all three players have underachieved in the early stages of their NHL careers.
Lafreniere had 21 points in 56 games as a rookie, Kakko had 26 regular-season goals in his first three seasons while Chytil managed just 42 goals in 253 regular-season games.
The chemistry was evident and carried over into the playoffs. They combined for two goals and three assists in the Game 1 win.
“All three of us guys, we can play with the puck, we are strong down low and that’s exactly what we were doing,” Chytil said. “That was exactly the same mindset that we had through the whole playoffs.”
Chytil is third on the Rangers with seven goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If he continues to produce, that will soon be evident in the Lightning vs. Rangers betting odds.
Lightning vs Rangers Betting Odds Preview
The Lightning didn’t win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles by folding after a tough outing. Tampa Bay has a goal differential of +6 in the three games following a loss in this year’s playoffs. They haven’t lost back-to-back postseason games since being swept by Columbus in 2019. That ability to bounce back is very much part of the reason why Tampa Bay is favored again on the road according to the Lightning vs. Rangers betting odds.
The good news for the Lightning is that forward Brandon Hagel was back on the ice. He had missed practice time since the end of the series against Florida and his status was up in the air; however, Brayden Point continues to be out with a lower-body injury and there’s a strong possibility that he could miss the entire series. That would be a huge blow for the Lightning because Point is a proven playoff producer. Point was Tampa Bay’s leading goal scorer in each of the last two postseasons.
The Rangers dominated on faceoffs, winning 33 of the 55 draws. Zibanejad, Ryan Strome and former Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow were all +3 in the faceoff department.
The odds are still in favor of Tampa Bay winning the series in six games as that carries a payout of +375. The Rangers winning the series in seven games has moved from +550 to +450.
Four of the last six games between the Rangers and Lightning have been decided by at least three goals with the Rangers winning three of those contests.
The Rangers have beaten Tampa Bay in four straight games for the first time since a four-game run from December 30, 2015 to March 6, 2017. Those contests happened in the regular seasons. When it comes to the 2022 playoffs, where teams finished in the NHL standings has not always been a predictor of postseason success. Follow along for the latest changes in Lightning vs Rangers betting odds.Follow us on Twitter