Tampa Bay will get back on track against the Rangers in Game 3
June 5, 2022
The defending champs aren’t about to go down easily
Rangers at Lightning
Amalie Arena – Tampa, FL
3:00 PM ET
Few followers of professional hockey would have predicted the results of the Eastern Conference Finals thus far. The fact that the Rangers are up 2-0, especially considering the series started at Madison Square Garden, isn’t entirely a surprise. But what is a surprise is how.
In its sweep of Florida, Tampa Bay only allowed three total goals. Andrei Vasilevskiy was dominant, pitching a shutout in Game 4 in what seemed like an exclamation mark on one of the postseason’s best performances from a goalie.
So when the Rangers slipped six – six! – goals in during Game 1, the identity of the Lightning was brought to the forefront. Game 2’s 3-2 loss resembled a more typical defensive game for Tampa Bay, but still, a loss is a loss.
Now that the series heads back to Tampa, what Lightning team will show up? The Rangers have not only been consistently good in the postseason, but they’ve also beat the Lightning five times in a row now. Can that type of trend continue against the battle-tested Lightning, a team seeking to three-peat as Stanley Cup champs?
The short answer? No.
And here’s why. Not only is Tampa Bay a mentally tough, veteran team, but there are also numbers that support a Lightning win. The Rangers have been great at MSG, but are only 2-5 on the road this postseason. In those seven games, they’ve been outscored 26-19 by the Penguins and Hurricanes. The Lightning, conversely, have been nearly unbeatable at home, going 4-1. In those games, the offense has been solid but the defense even better, as Tampa Bay scored 20 goals, but only allowed 12. And if you’re concerned about Vasilevskiy – which is fair – consider his numbers at home during the playoffs: In his last two starts at home, he’s only given up one goal in 120 minutes between the pipes; plus he stopped 83 of 84 shots (if you’re so inclined, and even if you’re not sure of the winner, betting the UNDER at 5.5 isn’t a bad idea for Game 3 either).
Tampa Bay is too good to go down 3-0. New York could win the series, but that’s a discussion for later. Today, the Lightning make things interesting, getting the win and bringing the series to 2-1.
Norm LaChatlier’s Pick: Tampa Bay M/L (-170)