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Rangers favored in Eastern Conference Finals over Lightning

May 16, 2015

The New York Rangers will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL Eastern Conference finals in a best of seven series that starts on Saturday. New York was winless during the regular season against Tampa Bay but is favored to win the conference finals.

Teams still left battling for the Stanley Cup are halfway there – two series and eights behind them and two series and eight wins to go.

Game 1 will be played at Madison Square Garden. Tampa Bay for the series is +125, while New York is -145. The line for Game 1 has Tampa Bay at +115 and New York at -135. The total goals for the game have been set at 5.

Both teams had to battle hard to reach this point. The Lightning was down 3-2 in round one to Detroit before winning two straight to win the series. The Rangers trailed the Capitals 3-1 before winning three straight to take that second round series.

Both teams are deep up front. Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson have a combined 14 goals for Tampa Bay in the playoffs. Steven Stamkos finally came alive in the second round against Montreal after starting the postseason slow.

The Rangers could not score against Washington, but are a resilient group of experienced players who found a way to score just enough to win. New York has now reached the conference finals two straight seasons.

Tampa has an edge offensively, but New York has the best goalie still in the playoffs in Henrik Lundqvist. He faced 223 shots against Washington and stopped 221. In three elimination games, he stopped 105 of the 110 shots he faced.

Both teams played in games where the score averaged 4.5 and it seems the 5 set for the opening game could be a high figure. Tampa Bay is 7-4-2 on the UNDER this postseason, while New York is 9-2-1 on the UNDER.

Odds makers could see something that others are not in this matchup causing them to think more goals will be scored in this series.

The play here in Game 1 is New York and the UNDER.