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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rangers vs. Lightning (March 19)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rangers vs. Lightning (March 19) article feature image
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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov.

Rangers vs. Lightning Odds

Rangers Odds +165
Lightning Odds -200
Over/Under 5.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV ABC | ESPN+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Tampa Bay Lightning return home after a lengthy six-game road trip, which saw them to play to a middling 3-3-0 mark.

Tampa Bay will play host the New York Rangers, who has given them problems this season, winning both previous contests.

That said, can the Lightning extract a measure of revenge at on home ice?

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Tampa Bay Lightning

On Friday, Julien Brisebois — Tampa Bay general manager — pulled the trigger on a massive deal, trading away two first-round picks and prospects Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk to haul in forward Brandon Hagel from Chicago, who will be a big addition the Lightning’s middle-six players.

Similar to last season, the Lightning are skating through somewhat of a slump through the dog days of a long season, but to look too much into it would be very foolish.

Winning first in the stacked Atlantic Division might not ultimately offer that great of an advantage with Boston looking like a legitimate contender and Washington looking more competent. So, it’s hard to imagine we have seen a fully engaged Lightning team of late.

A 47.95 expected goals rate over the road trip suggests the team hasn’t been at its best, but the team seemed to respond with two victories to close it out, and I expect them to show well in this spot.

The Lightning will enter at full health, and should see their big acquisition in Hagel make his debut, with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy likely to start.

Vasilevskiy has been tremendous again, with a +21.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .919 save % throughout 47 games played this season.

New York Rangers

Similar to the Lightning, New York hasn’t been at its best over the last six games, having also played to a 3-3-0 record. During that period, the Rangers haven’t controlled much of the run of play, holding a lowly 42.11 xG rate.

All season long we have seen New York cover up lesser expected goals marks with a combination of an elite net-minder and a deadly power-play unit, so it might not be overly concerning.

You don’t have to apologize for possessing a goaltender in Igor Shesterkin, who’s putting together one of the better seasons in recent history. Yet, it does seem clear that beyond New York being a little shy of being a true contender in the East.

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Since March 6, the Rangers hold the league’s fourth lowest xG for rate per/60 minutes at 2.29 during that span. I’m not going to try to argue New York’s offensive play is as poor as that number suggests, but the lack of ability for all four lines to contribute at even strength is a clear weakness.

The trade deadline could certainly change things, as New York will likely be aggressively pursuing some help in that regard. The Rangers hold a ton of cap space, and will be likely to make a deal.

Shesterkin will likely start for this contest and is deservedly a runaway favorite for the Vezina Trophy this season. Shesterkin holds a +31.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .938 save % throughout 40 games played.

Rangers vs. Lightning Pick

Brisebois put his chips in the middle with the acquisition of Hagel, saying he firmly believes a three-peat is within reach and you can’t argue his take on it.

So, with a few days rest after a lengthy and mediocre road trip, I like this as a spot for the Lightning to come out and play closer to top form against a Rangers team who has given them troubles this season.

This is no slight toward New York considering how truly great Tampa Bay is, but I still feel there’s a considerable gap between these squads when Tampa play true to form and I’m willing to bank on a strong effort from the hosts.

With regard to the total, I definitely lean toward under 5.5 goals, but my favorite play is Tampa Bay to take this one in regulation at -125 odds.

Pick: Tampa Bay — 3-Way ML (-125 | Play to -140)

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