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NHL Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks: Our 3 Best Bets for Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers, Including Plays on Andrei Vasilevsky, Game 1 Over/Under (June 1)

NHL Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks: Our 3 Best Bets for Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers, Including Plays on Andrei Vasilevsky, Game 1 Over/Under (June 1) article feature image
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Mike Carlson/Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky.

NHL betting analyst Nicholas Martin breaks down his three favorite plays ahead of Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals showdown between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.

Andrei Vasilevsky — Conn Smythe Trophy Winner (+550)

Vasilevsky is already Tampa Bay’s clear MVP of the postseason after his fantastic performance versus Florida. And even at the tail end of the Toronto series, it was quite clear who the ultimate difference maker was there.

He has thrived to a +11.0 goals saved above expected rating with a .932 save % throughout the Lightning’s first 11 playoff contests.

The most common narrative entering this series with New York is that we should see a very tight, low-scoring battle and I certainly agree with that take.

Should the series actually play out in that style, it will drastically improve the likelihood Vasilevskiy is viewed as the Lightning’s clear-cut playoff MVP by voters should the Lightning actually pull off the three-peat.

So, if your looking to get a little skin in the game backing the Lightning to win it all, I think taking Vasilevskiy at +550 to win the Conn Smythe is a great way to do so compared to Tampa Bay’s current +230 price to win the Stanley Cup.

By the same token, Igor Shesterkin can be found as high as +1000 to win the Conn Smythe. And considering there’s essentially no chance New York win the title without his play being the key ingredient, I feel that’s quite surely the smart way to back the Rangers to win outright should you wish to do so.

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Game 1 — Under 5.5 Goals (-120)

Considering all the well-deserved hype about how this series should play out totals wise, I was actually quite surprised to see the Game 1 opening number set at 5.5 goals, with minimal juice to the under.

The line has since moved to -120, but I still feel we have some strong value there.

Unders in the Tampa/Florida series went 4-0 with game totals, averaging four goals per game, and that was coming against a Florida team which had played shockingly high-event hockey all season.

New York played in a notably low scoring series versus Carolina as well, with under going 5-2 behind an average of 4.71 goals per game.

I will be quite surprised if we do not see the under 5.5 at -120 be a profitable play over the scope of this whole series, and I feel that simply backing this line while we can get it is an easy decision.

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Game 1 — Three-Way Regulation Draw (+320)

Sticking with our narrative that this should be a really close, hard-fought game, I see some value on a line I don’t often play.

New York did clearly play two strong games at the end of the Carolina series, and I think it’s possible at home it can definitely make this a close game as an underdog.

We know scoring on Vasilevskiy and the Lightning can be next to impossible as well. Therefore, I feel this game has a significantly higher chance than average of each team remaining within reach or tied with each other.

The chances we see a long stalemate in which each team hold its ground at 1-1 or 2-2 seems likely to me, so we only need to hit this play just over a quarter of the time to be profitable.

Backing 2-2 exact score through regulation at a long number if your sportsbook has that option as well looks like a solid punt, but I definitely feel this is a fun long-shot with some legitimate logical reasoning behind it.

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