Location: Madison Square Garden
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN, ESPN+, CBC, TVAS, SN
Opponent’s SBNation Site: Blueshirt Banter
Let’s get this out of the way right now. That nonsense we saw last night in Colorado? We’re not getting any of that tonight. There is a non-zero chance that this series doesn’t even get to 14 goals total, let alone in one game. That’s not a bad thing (especially for the respective coaching staffs). In fact, tonight will probably be the antithesis of the Colorado/Edmonton Game One.
Coach Jon Cooper’s philosophy about goals is well-known. He’s way more concerned with keeping pucks out of his team’s net than he is in filling the opponent’s net. New York has been able to score at a slightly higher rate than the Lightning (3.43 goals/per game vs. 3.27) but they’ve also faced slightly worse goaltending and relied on their power play for a significant bulk of their offense. Both teams are top-4 in the playoffs in goals allowed per game. So don’t expect too much to happen tonight.
The Lightning come in with nine days of rest. Depending on your belief system that is either good (heal up, practice good habits, rest) or bad (rusty, lose focus and playoff intensity). We’ll find out tonight. In their recent history, long periods of rest do seem to mess with the Lightning’s precision a bit on the ice. It wouldn’t be odd to see them struggle a bit in the first period and some of the sloppy play we saw early in the Toronto series rears its ugly head again. Can New York take advantage of that, though?
The overwhelming sentiment on social media is that the Rangers are playing with house money and that no one expected them to get this far so there is no pressure on them. Meanwhile the Lightning are burdened by their shot at immortality and the pressure is on them. Sure, why not? It’s a nice story line.
In reality, the Lightning have done a pretty good job the last few years of focusing on the game in front of them and letting the big picture things take care of themselves. What they are looking for right now is to win at least one of the first two games in New York. If they come back with a 1-1 split, they would be happy.
It sounds like the Lightning will have Brandon Hagel and Mikhail Sergachev (two players who missed some of the practices) back for Game One. Brayden Point is still out as far as we know, although his equipment bag did make the trip. Sooooooo maybe Game Two?
As for the Rangers, they seem to be pretty healthy, although Ryan Lindgren looked like he could barely skate after blocking a ton of shots in the Carolina series. The Rangers have been playing pretty much every other day since the start of the playoffs and had to overcome two pretty grueling seven-game series to get here. It’s possible that fatigue may catch up with them at some point, but expect the adrenaline to be flowing in Game One when they take the ice in the World’s Most Famous Arena tonight.
Expect a low-scoring game (it looks like Vegas has the total goals at 5.5) where special teams and the bottom-six lines play a factor. It won’t be surprising to see Pat Maroon or Barclay Goodrow score a net-front, ugly goal for the game-winner. Also, it wouldn’t be super surprising to see this one go to overtime.
Take a deep breath and remember that this is fun. Enjoy!
Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines
Steven Stamkos - Anthony Cirelli - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Nick Paul - Alex Killorn
Brandon Hagel (?) - Ross Colton - Corey Perry
Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev (?) - Cal Foote
We’re assuming the banged up players are healthy and Coach Cooper will roll with an 11//7 line-up. If not Riley Nash would probably slow in as a forward on the fourth line. We’ll update if we hear anything.
New York Rangers Potential Lines
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Frank Vatrano
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Andrew Copp
Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko
Tyler Motte - Barclay Goodrow - Ryan Reaves
Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller - Jacob Trouba
Justin Braun - Braden Schneider