New York Rangers (+110) at Tampa Bay Lightning (-121, 5 o/u)
The New York Rangers (53-22-7) have struggled all season against the Tampa Bay Lightning (50-24-8). After dropping Game 2 (6-2) in the Big Apple, the Blueshirts will now try to win back home-ice advantage when they visit Amalie Arena tonight for Game 3 Eastern Conference Finals (8:00 PM Eastern).
The Rangers are seeing a trend in their early series games so far this playoffs. They have won all three Game 1s, lost all three Game 2s, and taken two of two Game 3s to date. But the Lightning will come into tonight’s game a confident group, having taken all three regular season meetings from New York, including one at Amalie Arena.
Moreover, New York has scored more than two goals in just one of its last seven games and is averaging an even 2.0 GPG for the postseason.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault recognizes the challenge that now lies in front of his suddenly low-scoring squad.
“We’ve got another challenge in front of us, both defensively and offensively. We’ve been able to do it before,” Vigneault said after the loss in Game 2.
The six goal outburst by Tampa was the most goals New York has surrendered all playoffs. Lightning boss John Cooper credits his team’s perseverance for the offensive breakthrough.
“As a coach, you’ve got to make adjustments in some areas, and you’ve got to push buttons. For these guys to keep such a high-intensity rate for the whole playoffs, and that goes for every team, it’s a hard thing to do,” Cooper said Tuesday after arriving home New York.
In the trends, despite New York’s low-scoring playoffs, four of the last five games in this series have gone OVER the game total.
Pick: Tampa Bay -121.
(Photo credit: Robert Kowal (Rick Nash) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)