- Tampa Bay is a -177 favorite to defeat the Rangers in the NHL Eastern Conference Finals
- The Rangers (+160) open the series in Madison Square Garden where they have won six-straight games
- The Lightning haven’t played since May. 23 after sweeping the Florida Panthers in Round 2
While the NHL’s top offensive talents go toe-to-toe out West, the Eastern Conference Finals feature a goaltending matchup for the ages between Vezina favorite Igor Shesterkin and 2021 Conn Smythe winner Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Will the Lightning get one step closer to achieving the NHL’s first three-peat in almost 40 years or will the Rangers play for the Cup for the first time since losing to the Kings in the 2014 Finals?
Let’s check the series prices before puck drop on Wednesday night and make our Game 1 picks. Here’s also where you can find the top betting sites for NHL hockey in 2022 and smart wagering tips in our 2022 Stanley Cup betting guide.
Eastern Conference Finals
Rangers vs Lightning
The Lightning opened as a -177 favorite to win their best-of-seven series with New York after sweeping the President’s Trophy-winning Florida Panthers in Round 2. But you might be surprised to learn that the Rangers (+157) have home-ice advantage by virtue of finishing with five more regulation wins during the regular season.
Attempting to become the first team to win the Stanley Cup in three straight seasons since the Islanders captured four straight championships from 1980-83, Tampa Bay has claimed 10 consecutive postseason series victories. The Bolts are also on a six-game winning streak since falling behind 3-2 in their first-round series against the Maple Leafs.
The Lightning become the 3rd team in NHL history and 1st team to win 10 straight playoff series since the Islanders did so between 1980-1984. The Canadiens did it twice (76-80, 56-60).
Andrei Vasilevskiy now has a shutout in six out of his last seven series-clinching wins. pic.twitter.com/zhBasVoVQs
— Greg Harvey (@BetweenTheNums) May 24, 2022
Following their 6-2 victory against the Hurricanes in Game 7 on Monday, the Blueshirts are now 5-0 when facing elimination this postseason. New York was a perfect 3-0 against Tampa during the regular season as well. And the resilient Rangers have won six-straight home games heading into the series opener in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
NHL Playoff Games- Wednesday, June 1
Tampa Bay favored in Game 1
The Lightning (-125) are favored to strike first in the series with New York as a +105 underdog to win their seventh-straight home game. While the Blueshirts just played on Monday, Tampa Bay hasn’t laced up since May. 23rd and could be rusty on nine full days rest.
There’s also the question of Brayden Point’s health. The star center is still listed as day-to-day after missing the entire Panthers series.
— New York Post (@nypost) May 31, 2022
Vasilevskiy vs. Shesterkin
It’s not just that the goaltenders in this series are elite – it’s that both are at the very top of their games heading into the Eastern Conference Finals. After getting pulled twice in his first four starts against the Penguins, Shesterkin is 7-3 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in his past 10. Meanwhile, Vasilevskiy put up a 0.75 GAA and a .981 SV% in a sweep of the Panthers.
While it’s impossible to pick against last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner at this point, the Rangers will put up more of a fight than most people expect. We’ll take New York to win Game 1 in MSG before losing a hard-fought seven-game series to the two-time defending champs.
Game 1 prediction: Rangers 4, Tampa Bay 3
Series prediction: Tampa Bay in seven games
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: