NHL Hockey Betting: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Hockey Betting:  New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning&h=235&w=320&zc=1

The New York Rangers aren’t going to panic down 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning but their fans are. The always anxious New York fans are flooding sports radio phone lines offering their dubious suggestions for ‘fixing’ the New York Rangers which basically consists of 1) playing better defense 2) benching Henrik Lundqvist 3) benching Rick Nash or 4) some combination thereof. You’d think that the Rangers are getting humiliated in the series but in reality they trail 2-1 following a hard fought 6-5 overtime loss at the Amalie Arena on Wednesday night.

While no one in their right mind would bench Henrik Lunqvist aka arguably the best goalie in the sport he’s admittedly not played up to his usual form in Games 2 and 3. In fact, you can make a pretty compelling case that the Lightning ‘have his number’. Lundqvist allowed a total of 12 goals in Games Two and Three–more than he allowed in his previous 7 starts combined. In the last 7 head to head meetings between the Lightning and Rangers Lunvqvist has been torched for 4 or more goals on five different occasions. The Bolts exploded for 6 or more in three of those games including the last two.

Another thing that the myopic NYC sports fans have a tendency to forget–it’s just not a function of the Rangers playing poorly on defense. They’re facing a very good team here and one with a penchant for forcing teams to play at their tempo. Unlike the Rangers’ Rick Nash, who has completely disappeared during the playoffs, Steven Stamkos has played well since the midway point of the Montreal series. Stopping the Lightning offense is no easy feat whatsoever–that’s why they were the #1 goal scoring team in the NHL this season.

There’s also a bit of disconnect in thinking that all the Rangers need is to slow the tempo. The Lightning played effectively against the defensive tactics of the Montreal Canadiens so there’s every reason to think that assuming that the Rangers can slow things down–a big ‘if’–the Bolts could adjust. They’re the better team, the Rangers are the more heavily hyped team. The Lightning will win this series and will win Game Four.


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