NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are perpetually overrated and such is the case this season. After opening their season with a pair of wins over marginal opponents the media reaction was that the Rangers ‘rebuild’ was ahead of schedule. Not so much. Since opening the year 2-0 they’ve won only once while losing six–once in overtime. New York is 3-5-1 with 7 points and just one point ahead of the New Jersey Devils for the NHL’s worst record. They’ll have their hands full on Tuesday night as they host a Tampa Bay Lightning team that is trying to find some consistency and momentum.

The Lightning have been mediocre to start the season but after their massive performance last year during the regular season it seems as if the sky is falling by comparison. They’re essentially ‘treading water’ at this point–they’ve not lost more than two games in a row this year but they’ve not won more than two in a row either. They’re coming off a tough 3-2 loss at Nashville on Saturday when they definitely deserved a better result. They were the better team for most of the night but the Predators have a knack for pulling out this type of ‘ugly victory’. Tampa Bay now embarks on a three game road trip where they should really go no worse than 2-1 playing the Rangers, then the Devils and ending with a tough game against the Islanders. They’ll have a rematch against the Rangers on Thursday, November 14 at home.

Tampa Bay does give the impression that they’re ‘pulling it together’ in the individual components of the game. After a sputtering start to the year the offense is starting to click, currently tied for 9th place with Vancouver at 3.30 goals per game. They definitely need to tighten things up defensively and in net–they’ve got the #20 team defense allowing 3.20 goals per game and that’s not going to get them far in the postseason. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy hasn’t been great but far from awful at 5-2 with a 2.99 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. Curtis McElhinney is winless on the year but two of his three losses came in overtime. Much of the problem is on defense where they’re simply allowing too many shots. Tampa Bay allows 34.5 shots per game which is #29 in the league. Only the Rangers and Ottawa allow more shots per game. Special teams are also a mixed bag for the Bolts. They’ve got the #10 power play (24.1%) but rank #28 on the penalty kill (69.4%).

The Rangers will be starting backup goalie Alexander Georgiev on Tuesday–he’s got a 1-2-1 record with a 3.04 goals against average and a 0.913 save percentage. He could be in for a difficult time as Tampa Bay has dominated the Rangers in head to head play winning 5 of the last 6 and 3 straight at Madison Square Garden. They won all three meetings between the teams last year.

BET TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING -179 OVER NEW YORK RANGERS

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