Did you bet on the New York Rangers holding a 2-0 series lead heading into Sunday?
If you said yes, you’re a liar.
After showing so much supremacy over the past three years, the Tampa Bay Lightning have finally shown some cracks, and the Rangers are showing why they might be the team of destiny. The Rangers have outworked, outplayed and outscored the Lightning all series long, and they’re in a good spot heading into Game 3.
Here’s a look at what to keep an eye on in today’s matchup:
Can the Lightning overcome the biggest challenge yet?
The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t trailed by two games during the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2019.
It’s still just 0-2, and there’s still a lot of hockey to be played, but it’s shocking to see a Tampa team that swept the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the second round fall flat early on the scoreboard.
All credit to the Rangers: they’ve been fantastic, have gotten the better goaltending and have taken advantage of Tampa’s mistakes. But the Lightning are too good to just back down like this, and you can imagine they’ll be energized by the hometown crowd — especially after the Rangers have proven how hard it is to beat them at Madison Square Garden.
New York’s stars are outplaying Tampa’s, something that hasn’t happened during the team’s dynasty. When they get going, they’re unstoppable. But right now, they’ve seemed to have a hit wall, and they’re running out of time.
They need to swing the pendulum, and quick.
Don’t change, New York
After losing Game 1, many expected the Lightning to bounce back in a big way in Game 2. Instead, the Rangers stuck to their guns and got good games from the team’s biggest stars.
If you’re the Rangers, you don’t change anything. After comebacks against Pittsburgh and Carolina, the Rangers are playing with house money, and they’re not stopping any time soon.
The goal is simple: stick to your guns, go with what’s working. And it’s clear their depth is still rolling, K’Andre Miller is still showing why he’s a rising young star and Igor Shesterkin is still showing why he’s one of the best goalies in the league.
New York is going to expect a big fight out of Tampa Bay for Game 3, but the Rangers have bested them so far. The fact that just about everyone has found a way to play a vital role somehow in the first two games has been good, and the team has played enough must-win hockey already in the playoffs to put themselves in a good mindset for big games like this.
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