Lightning at Rangers Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 2/28/2013
The Lightning have been a minor disappointment to me so far this season as they sit exactly at .500 19 games into the season. They are excelling, though, compared to the Rangers — also at .500 after 18 games. The Rangers were the preseason favorites to win the Stanley Cup after adding Rick Nash to an already deep roster. Now they sit as just the seventh choice at Bovada to hoist the trophy, and at 18/1 they are not among the chief contenders.
Lightning at Rangers Betting Storylines
There are a number of reasons why the Rangers have underwhelmed in the face of massive expectations this year — play on the road, suspect coaching, goaltending below expectations — but one problem towers above the rest. Through 18 games the leading scorer — or the three players tied for leading scorer — have just 12 points. When the team is paying as much as they are to Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Nash, this is completely unacceptable. They are just 23rd in the league in scoring with 2.4 goals per game. Even worse, they are an ugly 29th on the power play, converting on just 11.1 percent of opportunities. Things have been even worse recently — they are averaging just 1.6 points per game in their last five. That makes the Rangers tough to trust right now.
The lack of success scoring has really hurt the Rangers in the box scores recently. They have dropped four in a row and five of six, including losses to teams they really should be beating in the Islanders, Senators and Jets.
So, it’s not easy to trust the Rangers. Unfortunately, the Lightning aren’t exactly inspiring right now, either. They have lost three of their last four games and nine of their last 12. The last six games show the exact problems of this squad — consistency. In the three wins over that stretch, they have averaged five goals per game. In the three losses they have averaged two. They have more offensive talent than any team in the league — they have six players who have scored more than the leading scorers for the Rangers, and the team is leading the way this year with 3.7 goals per game — but they don’t produce regularly enough to keep the team on track.
Beyond the consistency, the problem for the Lightning is a familiar one — goalkeeping. After struggling in net last year, the team brought in Anders Lindback to improve the position. It seemed like a good move, but it hasn’t worked. In fact, Lindback has been terrible — a 3.27 GAA and .890 save percentage in 14 games. He has a decent 7-4-1 record, but he’s making it too hard on his team in the long run. Backup Mathieu Garon has been no better, and his 2-5 record is a big part of the Lightning’s struggles. This should be a dangerous team, but they are in a three-way tie for the last playoff spot, and they aren’t going to move up the standings until they fix the fact that they have allowed more goals than every other team in the league in a playoff spot.
Injuries have been a concern for the Rangers recently, and that hasn’t cleared up yet. When they lost to Winnipeg on Tuesday they were playing without Nash, Arron Asham, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto. None are certain for Thursday, though McDonagh is practicing with the team and is the most likely to be ready. Nash has missed four games, and it is somewhat concerning that the team won’t talk about what is wrong with him. The Lightning don’t have as many issues with health, but they are likely to be missing a big player. Sami Salo left the last game and is uncertain here. He leads the team with a plus-11, so his absence would be significant for a team that already struggles to stop anyone.
Lightning at Rangers NHL Odds and Betting Trends
5Dimes has installed the Rangers as a -137 favorite with the Lightning listed at +127. The total is set at 5.5.
The Lightning have lost their last five against the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay has gone “over” the total in six of their last seven road games against teams with winning records. Six of the last eight meetings between the teams have gone over the total. Tampa Bay is 4-9 in their last 13 in New York.
Lightning at Rangers Picks and Betting Predictions
The play here is the over. The Lightning are offensively strong. The Rangers aren’t, but they showed some sparks on Tuesday and could carry that forward here. Either team could come out on top in this one, but it should take several goals to win it.
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