The NHL Conference Finals kicked off last night with an electric 8-6 game in which the Colorado Avalanche topped the Edmonton Oilers to take a 1-0 series lead in the West. In the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers are hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 1 tonight in New York at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. After sweeping the Florida Panthers, the Lightning have been off since May 23, and at this point of the playoffs, that rest should pay dividends in not only this game but also this series as a whole. While the Lightning were in complete control of the Panthers in Round 2, the Rangers had to go to seven games in their series against the Hurricanes, which saw them win a pair of elimination games and secure their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals. Heading into tonight’s Game 1, the Lightning are -125 road favorites with the Rangers being +110 home underdogs. After a game full of fireworks last night, tonight’s over/under is set at only 5.5 with plus-money odds to the over, which means the oddsmakers are expecting a much different series on the East side of the bracket. Inching closer to the Stanley Cup Finals, be sure to stay tuned to OddsShopper to lock in the best possible NHL lines and props throughout the conference finals. Let’s get to the best Game 1 bet and Lightning vs. Rangers prediction.
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Lightning vs. Rangers Game 1 Prediction
This series is fascinating for many reasons, but it cannot be understated how brilliant both goaltenders are. Both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin have been tremendous in the postseason, and this series very well may be the battle of the two best goaltenders in the world. In a four-game sweep of the Panthers, Vasilevskiy allowed only three total goals while capping off the series with a 49-save shutout in Game 4. Shesterkin has been very impressive himself, where he has an 8-5-0 record in the postseason with 2.68 goals allowed per game and a .928 save percentage. Both of these goalies have the potential to steal a game by themselves, and that alone adds another fascinating aspect to the way this series may unfold.
The Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions and coming off of a week-plus break in action, which clearly makes them the trendy pick in this Game 1 tonight. Although it is generally better to lean to a well-rested team, the way the Rangers beat the Hurricanes should carry over into this matchup against the Lightning. In a sense, Game 1 is momentum versus rest, and momentum gets the edge. The Rangers have showed up on home ice, and in that electric atmosphere, they were a perfect 3-0 against the Hurricanes. The Rangers are relying on their top players to produce, where forward Mika Zibanejad has a total of 19 points in 14 games and defensemen Adam Fox has accounted for 18 points over the same time. These two guys have led a top-heavy Rangers team, and if they want to pull off this upset, similar production will be needed from both of these guys along the way. The Rangers held a 3-0 record against the Lightning in the regular season, and with 72% of the money currently coming in on the Lightning in tonight’s game at this short number, the Rangers are even better in this spot. This series is sure to be entertaining, and it could be another seven-game series for the Rangers, who have shown the resilience to play with the league’s top teams.
Is it crazy to fade a Lightning team that has been here the last two seasons and is coming off of a sweep of the league’s best regular-season team? Maybe. But maybe they are also due for a loss, and given the Rangers’ momentum, their strong power play and their home-ice advantage, take the plus sign in Game 1.
Best NHL Betting Prediction Today: New York Rangers Moneyline (+110)