When the New York Rangers routed the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it sent a clear-cut message to everyone that they shouldn’t just be focusing their decisions based on the NHL odds.
The Rangers are no joke. Injuries may have helped move them past the first two rounds, but there is enough talent on the team already to seriously win the Stanley Cup.
While New York is riding high on their Game 1 win, Tampa Bay’s roster is clearly ready to gear up for round two.
And with the puck dropping tonight, we could be in for a much different game.
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Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers, 8 p.m. ET
- Game 2 (NYR leads 1-0)
- Watch on ESPN
- Full series preview
The Eastern Conference Final was expected to be a series that saw strong goaltending and good defense.
That didn’t exactly happen in Game 1.
Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning, widely considered the best goaltender on the planet, came into the matchup after allowing just three goals in the previous series against Florida.
That changed quickly Wednesday night.
The Blueshirts were highly aggressive on the forecheck causing mistake after mistake from Tampa Bay, and pounded Vasilevskiy hard to the tune of 34 shots with the goaltender saving just 28.
Igor Shesterkin on the other hand had a successful night for the Blue Shirts. Shesterkin saved 37 of 39 shots and locked the door on any hope of a Tampa Bay comeback in the third period.
While we may not see the same high volume of scoring again, as in the Western Conference Finals, both the Lightning and Rangers have the offensive firepower to put pressure on the two best goaltenders in the league.
Tampa Bay head coach, Jon Cooper was adamant that although New York was excellent on Wednesday, that was far from his team’s best game either.
“We have better in us as well.” the two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach said.
It’s a massive statement for a team that’s won their last 10 straight series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
New York has looked almost unbeatable at home over the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs holding a 7-1 record at MSG. However, as good as the Blueshirts were on Wednesday, the response from Tampa will be expected to be even greater. I don’t think we see Vasilevskiy look that shaky again this postseason, and the Lightning offense will want to respond in a big way. The Lightning will win and even up the series in preparation to go back to Tampa.