The Tampa Bay Lightning will travel to Madison Square Garden to face off against the New York Rangers on Saturday for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Lightning vs. Rangers match can be watched online through live stream below.
According to Dan Di Sciullo of the Sports Network, the Rangers entered the postseason as the Presidents' Trophy winners and claimed the NHL's best record for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup back in 1994. He commented on the performance of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, 33, a Swedish star seeming to hold everything together for the Rangers.
"Lundqvist stopped 35-of-36 shots in New York's 2-1 overtime win against visiting Washington in Game 7, improving his lifetime numbers in Game 7s to 6-1 with a .97 goals against average and .966 save percentage," Sciullo wrote. "His six Game 7 victories ties him with Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy for the most in NHL history."
Sciullo added that Lundqvist sported a 1.60 GAA and .944 save percentage in 12 games, which helped "New York lead the league in team defense with just 1.67 goals allowed per game." He then turned his focus on New York's offense, which has averaged just 2.00 goals per outing.
"The frustrating thing is scoring wasn't an issue for the top-seeded Rangers during the regular season, as the club finished third in the NHL with 3.02 GPG," Sciullo wrote. "New York is the only team left in the postseason without a single player having reached double digits in points."
According to Sciullo, the offense strategy for New York could rely on veteran winger Martin St. Louis, who had four assists through 12 games. The Rangers hope that facing off against his old team would motivate him on the ice.
"St. Louis was a staple on Tampa's top line for more than a decade and helped the club win a Stanley Cup in 2004 before demanding a trade during the 2013-14 season, when he was serving as Tampa's captain," Sciullo wrote. "The Lightning ultimately complied with the request and acquired former New York captain Ryan Callahan in exchange for St. Louis."
Sciullo added that the Rangers "have been excellent on the penalty kill, allowing only three power-play goals on 28 chances." He then turned his focus on Tampa Bay, particularly on the performance of Steven Stamkos.
"Tampa's star centerman now has 10 total points (3G, 7A) this postseason, leaving him three points shy of his personal-best total from the 2011 playoffs, which marked the last time the Bolts made it to the Eastern Conference finals," Sciullo wrote.
According to Sciullo, Stamkos made his name back in 2011 when the Lightning was considered the underdogs against the Boston Bruins. This time around, the team still had underdog status against the Rangers, but they have the chance to get a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals since winning the championship back in 2004.
Sciullo then elaborated on the performance of goaltender Ben Bishop, who "has consistently raised his game."
"The 6-foot-7 netminder went 40-13-5 with a .916 save percentage and 2.32 goals against average during the regular season and is boasting a .931 save percentage and 1.81 GAA through 13 outings in the playoffs," Sciullo wrote of Bishop.
As for who would fare better in this matchup, Sciullo looked at the history of both teams. He noted that they have never met before in the postseason; Saturday's game would mark only the fourth time they have met on the ice during the 2014-15 season.
"Although it's been a while since the clubs faced each other, it's hard to look past what Tampa Bay did to the Rangers this season," Sciullo wrote. "The Lightning not only won all three games but also were able to score at will against New York, something few teams are able to do against Lundqvist and his stingy defense."
Sciullo predicted that based on that history and lineup, the Rangers would win it in seven games.
"This should be another extremely close series and it's difficult to pick against New York no matter what happened in the regular season," Sciullo wrote.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Rangers and Lightning will air Saturday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on NBC. Because it will air via broadcast, online viewers will be able to freely stream the game on the NBC Sports website or through the NBC Sports Live Extra app.