This amazing NHL season is at the business end now as the Tampa Bay Lightning prepare to take on the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, for a place in the Stanley Cup final 2022 later this month.
The two teams have been flying against their competition this season and one of the most anticipated games of the season is set to get underway on June 1st live from the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City.
We’ll take a look ahead to the game and give you our best free betting picks for the night to see if we can earn you some extra cash to take into the rest of the week.
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New York have made tough work of making it to this stage of the competition, with two best-of-seven game series going all the way to the wire.
They started their playoff run against the Pittsburgh Penguins and after finding themselves 3-1 down in the series and on the verge of going home, they battled back to claim a 4-3 win thanks to two 5-3 wins and then an overtime victory in Game 7.
Then they were matched up against the number one seeds in the Carolina Hurricanes, where they once again found themselves in a win-or-go-home situation after losing Game 5 to go 3-2 down in the series.
The Rangers found their groove in Game 6 though claiming a big 5-2 win, and then cruised through the vital Game 7 with Chris Kreider scoring twice in a 6-2 win.
Kreider is their leading scorer with eight goals in the playoffs, while Adam Fox hit 13 assists and Mika Zibanejad got a high of 19 points.
Tampa on the other hand has had a much simpler time of it to get to this stage of the tournament, although their first-round game was tense.
They were matched up with Toronto Maple Leafs and were on the verge of elimination after falling behind 3-2 in the series with Game 6 going to overtime. But they found the winning goal to claim a 4-3 win and then went on to win Game 7 2-1 for a hugely impressive series win.
The aggregate score in that game was absolutely insane, with the teams sharing 47 goals between them over the seven games with the Lightning actually losing the split 23-24.
Their performance in the last round thought was mesmeric as they completely dominated the number one seed Florida Panthers to sweep them in the series 4-0 and make their way through to the conference finals.
Ross Colton and Corey Perry lead the way in their playoff campaign with five goals each, while Nikita Kucherov is matching expectations with 11 assists so far. He also leads the way with the most points scored in the playoffs so far for the Lightning, scoring 15 so far.
This season has been an odd one statistically for New York, but it’s clear that they’re relying on their great defense to win games rather than blowing teams away.
So far this season they have scored 3.06 goals per game, which ranks them at 16th across the entire NHL, but defensively they are allowing just 2.49 goals per game which give them the second-best defense in the league.
The Rangers have been the underdog 40 times this season and have managed to score victories in 18 of those games, which shows just how good they have been under pressure.
In New Yorks 101 games so far this season, they have seen the Over of 5.5 goals for this game hit on 48 occasions including each of their last two games.
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The Lightning come into this game as the favorites and it’s clear to see why when you look at the stats for the game.
So far this season they are 51-24 when entering the game as favorites and when priced at -125 or shorter they have a 48-19 record.
They’re averaging 3.48 goals per game this season, giving the seventh-best ranked offense in the NHL while defensively they’ve been strong enough to allow just 2.8 goals per game for the sixth-best defense in the league.
In Tampa Bay’s games this season they’ve managed to hit the Over 5.5 mark on 53 occasions, including three of the last seven they’ve played in.
If you compare the team’s combined goals scored stat for the season the over is set to 1.59 goals less than that, while if you compare the goals allowed stat for the season the mark is 0.3 goals too low too. Overs looks the play here.
As for the game itself, it’s likely to be a pretty close affair. Both teams have shown an ability to be able to keep it tight or go gung-ho, and you have to give the Lightning the advantage either way.
The added rest they’ve had will help too and they will come out fast and hard away from home to try and silence the crowd early.
Back the Lightning to claim a win in Game 1 and probably go on to win the series inside six too.
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