Rangers-Lightning Betting Preview: The Bolts Are Expected to Roll
Charles LeClaire, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Louis Domingue
Betting odds: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
- Rangers moneyline: +215
- Lightning moneyline: -260
- Over/Under: 6.5
- Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. ET
There are a handful of teams at the 30-game mark in the NHL season and the playoff race is still a mess, especially in the Eastern Conference where no team is more than five points out of the playoffs.
The picture is a little bit clearer in the Western Conference, but even the Arizona Coyotes — seven points out of the final Wild Card spot — have games in hand on every team ahead of them.
Of course just because you’re still in the thick of the race doesn’t mean you’ll stay there. Thanks to the NHL’s current point system, we’re used to the cream slowly rising to the top.
One of those teams that’s still “in the hunt” but will likely fall off is the New York Rangers and they just happen to be playing the best team in the NHL tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Tampa Bay’s recent run of form — it’s on a six-game winning streak and has won nine of its last 10 and 11 of its last 13 — is that the Bolts are putting up great results despite some suspect goaltending.
Starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been out with a fractured foot Nov. 15 and No. 2 goalie Louis Domingue has not been a world-beater in his absence. I always wondered why Tampa Bay never got a better insurance option than Domingue, who has never been very good.
But then again Tampa Bay is so good at limiting scoring chances that you can see why the Lightning weren’t too worried about Dominigue carrying the load for 15-20 games.
The Lightning allow 1.88 expected goals against per 60 minutes, the best mark in the NHL, and 9.15 high-danger chances per 60, which ranks fourth-best in the league. Domingue’s .928 expected save percentage is tied with Jack Campbell for the seventh-highest among all goalies who have played at least 200 minutes.
Even with an easy workload, Domingue has struggled, and that should level the playing field enough to give the Rangers some value tonight.
The Rangers aren’t particularly good, but they do generate good scoring opportunities. The Blueshirts average 11.2 high-danger chances per 60 minutes at 5v5, 11th in the NHL. They also have Henrik Lundqvist in goal and the 36-year-old Swede is having a fantastic season.
In 22 games this season Lundqvist owns a .932 5v5 save percentage and +5.9 Goals Saved Above Average. The edge in goal is clearly with the Rangers tonight, even if everything else points to a Tampa Bay rout.
New York has a path to success tonight. The Rangers should get a few chances and with Domingue in net a few should find the back of the net. From there, we just pray to the goalie gods that Lundqvist stands on his skull and steals us a win.
The Rangers will be up against it and you shouldn’t expect them to win this game, but the odds are a little too wide given the matchup in goal. I’d suggest playing the Rangers down to +205 and would remind you to shop around the market for the best number.
The bet: New York Rangers +215