We might not see 14 total goals in Madison Square Garden tonight but the Eastern Conference Finals between the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning and underdog New York Rangers is still going to be a battle.
The Rangers are riding high off their second Game 7 victory in the postseason while the Bolts come into tonight’s opener well rested after taking care of the Panthers in four straight games.
Despite many writing off the Rangers, can the better-seeded Blue Shirts make this a series, or have Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning turned things up since Round 1? Find out in our free NHL picks and predictions for Lightning vs. Rangers.
Lightning vs Rangers Game 1 odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
The Rangers opened as +105 home dogs on Tuesday afternoon and have moved to +110 as of Wednesday morning. This is the shortest Tampa has been on the road in the postseason. This is also the first time New York has been a home underdog since early April.
New York took four of the five meetings this season and outscored the Bolts 17 to 13. The Rangers also closed as +134 home dogs in the last meeting at MSG back on January 2.
The total sits at 5.5 and leans slightly to the Under. It should close at 5.5.
Lightning vs Rangers Game 1 predictions
Predictions made on 6/1/2022 at 9:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Lightning vs Rangers Game 1 info
• Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
• Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2022
• Puck drop: 8:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Lightning vs Rangers series odds (tied 0-0)
Lightning vs Rangers Game 1 betting preview
Lightning: Brayden Point F (Questionable), Brandon Hagel F (Probable).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.
Lightning vs Rangers head-to-head record this season
Lightning: 1-4 SU, 14 goals for.
Rangers: 4-1 SU, 17 goals for.
Betting trend to know
The Under is 5-0 in the Lightning’s last five overall. Find more NHL betting trends for Lightning vs. Rangers.
Lightning vs Rangers Game 1 picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
We aren’t expecting the same fireworks tonight at MSG we saw last night, but this Eastern Conference Final could be a very stereotypical third-round playoff series.
We have two elite goalies at the top of their game. Likely 2022 Vezina winner Igor Shesterkin is coming off a series where he went 4-3 SU but had a 1.72 GAA and a .949 save percentage. As good as those numbers were, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 151 of 154 shots in Round 2 and allowed just three goals across four second-round games. Goals will be at a premium in this series.
With how low-scoring this series is projecting, is there any value in the underdog home side in Game 1, especially considering the Bolts haven’t played since May 23?
The Rangers are coming off a massive Game 7 win in Raleigh where they finally handed the Hurricanes their first loss on home ice and the power play was a huge reason for the victory. The Rangers likely won’t get plenty of time with the man advantage in this series, but with the Bolts kicking off some rust early in tonight’s game, there could be a chance the Rangers’ legs create some early penalties. The Bolts’ penalty kill has been solid this postseason but the Rangers’ power play is 13-for-40 and is the best unit next to the Avalanche.
Tampa relied heavily on Vasilevskiy in the second round as the offense mustered just 13 goals. Of those tallies, four came on the power play and three came via the empty net. Without Brayden Point (questionable), this offense scored just six goals at even strength versus a Florida team that was more than generous during the regular season. Now John Cooper’s team will have to score against Shesterkin, who held the Hurricanes to two or fewer goals in six of the series’ seven games.
Point, who hasn’t practiced since Round 1, is a giant question mark entering the series. His absence makes this a relatively weak offensive team down the middle with Nick Paul sliding into the second-line center role.
Tampa’s M.O. is to sit back and wait for its opponent to make a mistake but now the Lightning have to face the best goalie they’ve seen in the playoffs and don’t have home-ice advantage. These games are going to be tight and both teams have elite power plays and penalty kills that can bail them out.
We like New York’s depth and think its top six can match the production of the Lightning’s top six. The Lightning have the edge in experience and on the blue line but we like the Rangers here — especially in Game 1, where the term rust vs. rush is relevant.
If the Rangers get an early lead, we don’t love Tampa’s chances of playing from behind. The Lightning haven’t trailed in over 11 periods of hockey and New York is coming off a winning series where games were extremely tight. The Rangers can have success in these types of games and their 5-on-5 play was responsible.
We are well aware that the Rangers have not seen a healthy No. 1 goalie yet in the playoffs, but we aren’t expecting these games to get out of hand and New York can certainly win a 2-1 game to kick things off.
This is a different opponent for Tampa than Toronto and Florida and might not be a great matchup for the defending champs. Add in an underdog price for Game 1 and we’re back on the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Prediction: Rangers moneyline (+110 at DraftKings)
The Carolina vs. New York series saw a total that teetered on 5.5 and 5 but closed at 5.5 in every game. We’re confident that a series featuring Vasilevskiy and Shesterkin — as well as two offenses that are PP reliant — will also struggle to produce goals. Seeing this total at 5.5 -115 to the Under was very surprising this morning as we’re expecting this total to close closer to -130 or -135 to the Under at 5.5.
First off, we have two goalies who stopped 373 of 388 shots for a .961 SV% and a 1.37 GAA in their respective second-round series. With Vasilevskiy and Shesterkin, this total should not be -115 to the Under 5.5.
Neither offense was particularly good at 5-on-5 in the second round, either. The Bolts managed just six even-strength goals through four games vs. the Panthers while the Rangers averaged 1.42 even-strength goals per game vs. the Canes. Both clubs relied heavily on their power plays as the Rangers scored nine of their 19 goals with the man advantage or into the empty net while Tampa had more than 50% of its second-round goals come on the PP or into the empty net.
The Rangers offense has also had the benefit of seeing Casey DeSmith, an injured Tristan Jarry, Antti Raanta, and Pyotr Kochetkov. Now they have to see the reigning Conn Smythe winner in Vasilevskiy, who looks like a different goalie from his somewhat shaky Round 1 performance.
New York head coach Gerard Gallant knows how to get to the Stanley Cup Finals and is aware of how the Lightning play. You can’t make mistakes against the Bolts as they’ll sit back and wait for their opponents’ errors. This leads to a very strict game at even strength with very few quality chances being available. Both teams are heavily rolling four lines and this game could see a ton of action along the boards. It’s going to be physical, folks.
We are certainly going to see a low-scoring, physical, shot-blocking series with elite play in net. This could be an even lower-scoring series than the Rangers vs. Hurricanes and the current total is not reflective of that. Both clubs have no issues getting the lead and sitting back on it. Many books are starting to hit -120 and -125 for the Under.
Prediction: Under 5.5 (-115 at bet365)
It is tough to find value-driven prop markets in this series, especially with our low-scoring projections. There are some derivative markets that we’ll be looking for if the total starts to fall (neither team to score four goals, both teams to score two goals — NO, etc…) but with the Under 5.5 still available at -115, we don’t have to get too cute.
Tampa just finished a series with the highest-scoring team in hockey and the Under went a perfect 4-0. Tampa won the series in four straight and did so with just 13 goals to its name.
The Rangers offense will have its biggest test of the 2022 postseason with Vasilevskiy in net. They’ve seen plenty of No. 2 tenders and now they’ll face the best. New York, like Tampa, has done plenty of its scoring with the man advantage and we doubt much will be called unless it’s blatant.
If this game finished 2-0, would you be surprised?
Pick: Under 5.5 (-115 at bet365)
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