Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Missed opportunities have brewed up frustrations for the New York Rangers as they could have more just two wins in eight November outings had they not contrived to lose four shootouts over that spell. Coming up against an in-form Lightning is a big test of their mentality, as 15 points from the last 18 available is keeping tonight's opponents right at the fore of the NHL. In terms of the East, only Pittsburgh sit above Tampa in the form table and also on total goal difference. They're a highly skilled team but one that shows the necessary grit to get it done on the road as well.
It'll be a return to Madison Square Garden for a number of Rangers; former captain Ryan Callahan, depth center Brian Boyle and defenceman Anton Stralman. Most notably the latter has been a huge boost on the Tampa blueline but the organisation as a whole has really benefited from New York's tight salary cap situation. Of course it's difficult to forget about Martin St. Louis sitting in the home locker room too, no player has more points for the Lightning in their history and it all ended a little acrimoniously with his trade to NYC in June.
I'd like to heap some extra praise on Tampa coach Jon Cooper for the work he has done with this team, both he and opposite number Alain Vigneault preach an entertaining brand of hockey too. What's curious about the Rangers this year is their goals against especially when the lack of giveaways indicates they could open up more in attack. I guess the record at the back can be explained by the sheer number of defencemen they've had to use because of injuries.
Steven Stamkos is riding a five-game point streak although hasn't hit his true goalscoring heights so far and is still tied for second in the NHL, and the 2.23 on him finding the net at any time is perhaps too short. My pick on that front would have to be the man tied with his captain for points, Tyler Johnson, who is out at 5.20.
I was expecting the Rangers to be favoured more heavily here because of their usual popularity but evens on a Bolts win at any time is still fair game here.
Best Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning inc. overtime and a penalty shootout 2.00