NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers

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

The Eastern Conference Finals continue on Sunday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers will contest Game Five at Madison Square Garden. The teams are tied 2-2 after a lopsided 5-1 Rangers victory in Game Four. That sets up Game Five which might end up deciding the ultimate series victor. The loser of this game will be facing elimination in Game Six meaning that both teams ‘need’ this win.

In a series–and for that matter an entire playoff run for both teams–that has been difficult for either side to gain ‘momentum’ off of a big win the fact that the Rangers prevailed so dominantly in Game Four now means nothing. In fact, it could be a disadvantage for New York who now has to deal with a Tampa Bay team that will bring the intensity following this embarrassing loss. The Bolts have been excellent in their next game following a substandard performance this season. They’re 12-6 after losing by two or more goals, they’re 15-5 after allowing four or more goals and they’re 12-3 after scoring one goal or less. This isn’t surprising–this is a tendency that you see often in good teams. Bad teams are content with losing and go into prolonged slumps. Good teams won’t accept a ‘bad night’ and quickly take steps to reverse it. This is especially true in the postseason where teams simply can’t afford anything approximating a ‘slump’.

The Rangers have shown a habit of being very sloppy at times during the playoffs and that’s a bigger concern after such an easy win. It’s probably not even a conscious decision–after something comes as easily as their Game Four win the human subconscious has a hard time ‘resetting’ in anticipation of a tough battle. That means a potential letdown spot which, combined with the intensity that Tampa Bay will bring, doesn’t bode well for the Rangers.

Ultimately, we’ve got a game between evenly matched teams with some small emotional/subjective edges accruing to the road team. For that reason, we’ll take the underdog Tampa Bay Lightning. In a game this close in a matchup this even there’s no other real option than to take the ‘plus money’.


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