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NHL Picks: June 03

By Mitchell Blair

I said when previewing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final that you should roll the dice and take the Rangers. If you listened to that advice, you made a sound investment. If you didn’t, that’s OK. Admittedly, while I thought the Rangers could take Game 1 and take advantage of a Tampa team that hadn’t played in nine days, I didn’t think the Blueshirts would win by four! 

Despite that solid Game 1 win, many still believe the Lightning are the better team and I can’t argue that. Tampa isn’t going to concede anything after the Game 1 defeat and they will be a better team in Game 2. This narrative is very close to the one everyone had after Game 1 of the Tampa / Leafs series and we all know how that series turned out.  

Yes, the Lightning were not good in Game 1, they gave up more goals in one game to the Rangers than they did in four games against the offensively-loaded Panthers in Round 2. Fear not, Tampa will be much improved. Vasilevskiy will be better as he was after Game 1 of the Toronto series and as he is after a loss. There will be no rink rust to shake off and we should see the Lightning team that we expect in Game 2. The key to victory here will be Tampa’s discipline. The Rangers power-play has been lethal. If Tampa can limit their trips to the box, I see them attaining the much-needed split they desire.   

It is tempting to take New York in Game 2 and there is good money on the moneyline if you do, but the money isn’t bad on the Lightning either and the numbers have proven that taking two playoff games in a row on this team is an extremely tough challenge.   

PICK: Tampa Bay Lightning (-127) on ML at Coolbet

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