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NHL Playoffs Game 2 Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Rangers (June 3)

NHL Playoffs Game 2 Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Rangers (June 3) article feature image

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: igor Shesterkin.

  • The New York Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoff series.
  • Despite playing stellar defense throughout the postseason, the Rangers took Game 1 after an offensive explosion.
  • Grant White breaks down Game 2 and explains why he expects the Broadway Blueshirts to extend their series lead below.

Lightning vs. Rangers Game 2 Odds

Lightning Odds-134
Rangers Odds+112
Over/Under5.5 (+100 / -122)
Time8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

After a convincing win in Game 1, the New York Rangers are looking to take themselves to a 2-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.

New York continued to assert itself on home ice, improving its playoff record to 6-1 at Madison Square Garden. Still, that wasn’t enough to earn any respect in the betting market, with the Rangers entering Game 2 as plus-money home underdogs.

We’re betting they make the most of their chances tonight and head down to South Florida with a comfortable series lead.

Have Lightning Been Lucky?

One of the keys to the Bolts’ postseason success over the last few seasons is Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian netminder is perennially a top playoff performer, posting a 92.4% save percentage throughout his career and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2020-21.

Vasilevksiy was less convincing through the opening games of the playoffs this season, though, stopping just 88.5% of shots through the first six games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He corrected to end the series, carrying momentum into the second round against the Florida Panthers, allowing four goals in five games with a 97.8% save percentage.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performances are incompatible with long-term playoff success, and ongoing correction should be anticipated after a stretch of extended above-average performances.

The Lightning’s metrics have also taken a hit as a team, with opponents finding ways to create chances against them. Tampa has given up 11 or more high-danger opportunities in five of its past eight games, out-chancing opponents in just three of those contests.

Vasilevskiy’s metrics will continue to suffer with prolonged defensive zone coverage issues.

Lastly, the Bolts have been much less effective on the road this postseason, getting outplayed in five of seven contests with a 49.4% expected goals-for rating. Opponents have attempted 11 or more quality opportunities and 24 or more scoring chances in three of their past five outings.

Tampa has been lucky so far these playoffs, going 4-3 on the road, but it can’t continue to get outplayed and win games.

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New York Has Key Advantage

Much like the Lightning, the Rangers’ surge to the Eastern Conference Final has a lot to do with goaltending. Igor Shesterkin has been a revelation between the pipes, stopping 92.9% of shots for the Broadway Blueshirts.

He’s looked even more impressive at MSG, with a 94.9% save percentage, and as we saw in Game 1, is showing no signs of slowing down. Shesterkin has stopped 94.9% of shots or better in six of his past seven starts.

New York also has a plethora of skilled forwards to offset some of its structural deficiencies. The Rangers ended the regular season with a 10.5% shooting percentage, operating slightly above that in the playoffs with an 11.1% rating. The boost relates to increased power-play production, with their five-on-five rating holding steady at 8.6%.

Similarly, New York has been consistent in production from the regular season to the playoffs. Through 15 games, the Rangers are averaging 28.5 scoring and 11.4 high-danger chances across all strengths, which is on par with their averages of 26.6 and 11.8 from the regular season.

It’s evident that we should expect sustained output from a Rangers squad averaging 3.6 goals per game in the playoffs.

Lightning vs. Rangers Pick

Both teams go as far as their goaltenders carry them, and right now, Shesterkin is doing a lot more heavy lifting. Moreover, the Rangers’ group of forwards has been more effective finishers, giving them yet another advantage.

New York has a couple of advantages that aren’t reflected in the betting price, leaving an edge in backing them on home ice.

There’s also been a lack of overtime games in the postseason. The Lightning could plan on slowing things down and preventing chances rather than trading blows with the Rangers, which could lead to the first overtime game of Round 3.

Pick: Rangers +100 · Game to Go to Overtime +320

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