A big opportunity for the Tampa Bay Lightning to take a 3-1 series lead tonight over the New York Rangers. The Rangers found themselves just in this scenario last round, where they ended up getting down 3-1 only to come back against the Washington Capitals. But those are the Capitals, the master of choke, this is the Tampa Bay Lightning who have been one of the best teams in the NHL throughout the regular season. They are young and less experienced than the Rangers are, but will New York be able to overcome two 3-1 deficits in a row? Especially against the Lightning, whose offense has been firing on all cylinders. Additionally, Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t seem in his zone at all. The Rangers rise and fall with the play of Henrik, when he is down the whole team is down, and that is what is going on here. 9 times out of 10 if the Rangers score 5 goals then they are winning, but in the last matchup Lundqvist allowed 6 goals to give up a 6-5 loss in overtime. Combined in the last two games, Henrik has given up 12 goals which is out of this world for him.
The Ducks were able to shake that hard overtime loss off a couple nights ago and pick up game 3 on the road in Chicago last night. It pretty well played out how I thought, as the Blackhawks’ legs were giving them trouble late in that game. They just ran out of gas and couldn’t find enough to get the equalizer and force another overtime. It worked out well for the Ducks, who now have an upperhand in the series and are guaranteed to go back to Anaheim with at least a 2-2 series. The only two losses credited to the Ducks in the playoffs have been close games in overtimes. They have yet to lose in regulation. The win in game 2 for the Blackhawks may have come at a big cost for them. That series is on break tonight though, as the stage is set for game 4 between the Rangers and Lightning.
N.Y. Rangers @ Tampa Bay Lightning
Tonights game 4 comes down to how you believe Henrik Lundqvist is going to respond after two awful showings. The way he’s been playing is surprising in a sense, but he has a long history of struggling against the Lightning. I see some remarks about Cam Talbot maybe getting the nod tonight? The Rangers aren’t going to pull that now, they are far too deep in to make a goaltending change and can you imagine how Henrik would feel with the Rangers organization if that occurred. In the Lightning last six games against the Rangers, they have averaged 4.6 goals per game on them. Undoubtedly, the Lightning have had the most success over the Rangers offensively in the NHL.
Do I think Lundqvist can just simply bounce back again tonight? He could, but with a total of 5 being afforded to us again I don’t know how I do not take the OVER. I thought we were going to see the OVER juiced but its about even with the UNDER. Before Henrik shows some signs of life against the Lightning, a total of 5 just looks too attractive to me. The OVER is 6-2 the last eight meetings, and is 5-1 in the last six. I see the worst case scenario a push in this game. With that extra .5 cushion, I like the OVER 5 Friday night.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-105) 5DIMES – BEST ODDS