New York Rangers (+113) at Tampa Bay Lightning (-125, 5 o/u)
The New York Rangers (53-22-7) have faced elimination before in these playoffs and won’t panic now that they are in the same position against the Tampa Bay Lightning (50-24-8). Down 3-2, the Rangers travel to Amalie Arena in Tampa for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight (8:00 PM Eastern Time).
The Rangers found themselves in a 3-1 hole against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference semis, but won three straight.
“We’ve obviously been in a few of these situations in the past and are very confident that our group is going to enjoy the opportunity and enjoy the challenge, get ready for it and come up with a good game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said to the Associated Press.
The offensively loaded Lightning – who were the highest scoring team in the NHL in the regular season – play a much different style than the defensive-minded Caps, however, and the Rangers have had trouble slowing down Tampa’s top-six forwards for much of the series.
Game 5 provided some encouragement for the New York defense. They surrendered just two goals and limited Tampa to 22 shots on net. The problem was that the Blueshirts couldn’t beat Tampa goalie Ben Bishop with any of their own 26 shots, falling 2-0 in the pivotal tilt.
Despite playing on home ice tonight, the Lightning are aware that the Rangers will be an extremely tough out.
“These guys went to the Cup finals last year,” Lightning star Steven Stamkos said about the Rangers to the AP. “How many times have they been down this series and come back? … We understand the magnitude of the next game, and we’re going to get their best game; there is no question about it.”
In the betting trends, Tampa Bay has dominated the Rangers over the last ten games, winning seven. Expect the Lightning to come out with a better performance in front of their home fans tonight (versus their 5-1 setback in Game 4) and be extremely motivated to keep the series from shifting back to New York for a Game 7.
Pick: Lightning -125.
(Photo credit: Leech44 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)