Down to the final 4 of the NHL playoffs with some familiar faces and a newcomer. The Lightning haven’t been playing like newcomers, but they haven’t been playing this good of hockey since they last won the Stanley Cup back in 2004. The Lightning have another good opportunity to add a championship to the resume. Stamkos by all intent and purposes hasn’t even shown his full capabilities in the playoffs. He has made a couple nice plays here and there, most notably on a breakaway, but he hasn’t taken over the playoffs like some may of thought. Thankfully for the Lightning somebody else has stepped into that role, Tyler Johnson. If the Lightning win it all its a safe bet that Johnson is going to earn MVP honors in the playoffs. Bishop has played great too, but the nod has to go to Johnson who has been on fire. However, with two rounds still to go until then, that should be the furthest thing from the minds of the Lightning.
Defeating the Canadiens in the way they did was quite impressive. They now face another elite goaltender in the Eastern Finals against Henrik Lundqvist. The Habs had a great goaltender as well, but they have such an inept offense that the Lightning were able to take advantage of. The Rangers do boast a better offense and what I think is a better team overall. They were in this same spot last season and moved on, only to lose in the finals. Consequently, this should be the Lightning’s biggest test yet in the playoffs.
The Lightning have talent but lack experience this deep in the playoffs, the Rangers have a mix and match of both. Regardless it should be an entertaining series that should last for some time with the winner not being much of a surprise either way. The winner here will face the winner of the Blackhawks Ducks series which is another that should be a real good one. I wouldn’t want to miss any of these games because they should provide good hockey for the next few weeks, into the Stanley Cup Finals. Lets go looking for a winning pick in game 1 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ N.Y. Rangers
It just goes to show how important some regular season games can come to be when looking back now. Some points here and there and game 1 would be starting in Tampa Bay. As it is though the Rangers were able to give themselves home-ice in this series against the Lightning. And that is big, because the Lightning were tops in the NHL at home, when things shift on the road they aren’t nearly as proficient. Note the home record of 36-11-0-1 compared to 23-18-3-4 on the road. A pretty significant jump. The Lightning have however been playing pretty well against the Rangers lately, beating them four straight games and 5-1 in their last six meetings.
This is about time for Stamkos to step up and take the series over. To get on Crosby’s level he is going to have to add a Stanley Cup to his list of achievements and play a crucial role in winning. He has slowly improved as the playoffs have moved on, we’ll see if it comes full circle this series. A lot of the prices on totals have made a non-bet for me. With juice regularly hitting around -150 it was best to avoid them. This afternoon we get a pretty decent price on the UNDER. This series should be pretty low scoring with Bishop and Lundqvist between the pipes and I don’t think we are going to see lower prices often in the series. The UNDER is 1-8-1 the Rangers last ten games, and 3-5-2 for the Lightning. I’ll take my chances with it this afternoon.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-119) 5DIMES – BEST ODDS