New York Rangers Take On Tampa Bay Lightning in Game One


The New York Rangers barely scraped by in the second round to now face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. And Game One starts today.

  • Time: 1:00 pm ET
  • Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  • Where to watch: NBC, CBC, TVA

In the earlier part of the regular season, the Rangers were absolutely demolished by the Lightning in all three match ups. The Bolts outscored the Blueshirts, 5-1, at Madison Square Garden in their first meeting. Then 4-3, in Tampa. Then 6-3, back in New York.

But that was the regular season and this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A lot has changed since their last game together and the stakes are much higher.

Will the Rangers be able to gain momentum early on in this series against the Lightning to prove it?

New York Rangers

The team’s defense is stronger now than it’s ever been this year; much stronger than when it faced the firing squad that was the Lightning. The addition of Keith Yandle has added much needed depth at the blue line. And the defensive capabilities from some of the forwards, such as Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, has helped too.

New York Rangers
New York Rangers /

New York Rangers

Additionally, Captain Ryan McDonagh had missed two of the three games due to a separated shoulder: not only removing a core defenseman from the Rangers, but leadership as well. McDonagh endured a huge hit from Brooks Orpik in Game Six of Round Two, but is set to go for today’s game.

With solid defense in place, how will offense fair?

For one, former Bolt Martin St. Louis is failing the goals quiz and he’s failing it horribly so far. The 39-year-old has not scored a single goal in all twelve games played in Rounds One and Two. BUT, now is the time to redeem himself.

Because this is a series against his former team, many eyes will be on him and many things will be said about him. Whether or not those are good or bad comments will be strictly up to St. Louis. If he can score a goal today, it would definitely help a lot of Rangers fans forget all those times he couldn’t pull through.

It’s still not certain when Mats Zuccarello will be back after sustaining what is assumed to be a concussion, but as soon as possible would be helpful in this series. All Alain Vigneault could say about his return is “there’s always hope.”

Meanwhile, Dan Boyle (also a former Bolt) is expected to play in Game One today. After a hit to the head that sidelined him in Game Seven, Boyle participated in practice on Friday.

For the full Rangers lineup, click here.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

With Rangers’ former players – Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman – on Tampa’s bench now, how will New York tackle this series?

“The key thing there is former players. They’re not my players anymore.” – Vigneault

“At the end of the day, this is the Tampa Bay Lightning we’re playing against; doesn’t matter who’s on it.”- McDonagh

So with past relations aside, and the nobody is getting in our way of the Cup mentality, this series could get rough.

Both teams play with a similar style. Both are fast on their skates and both are quick to get the puck out of their own zone. However, Tampa’s offense is outshining New York’s so far in the postseason. Tyler Johnson (8 goals and 12 points) and Steven Stamkos (on a five-game point-scoring streak) are the top two Bolts the Rangers will have to try to wrangle down.

In the net, Ben Bishop has never lost against the Rangers, going 8-0 in his lifetime. Rangers offense will have to pull off something that has never been done before if they want to win today. They need to score more than a few goals on Bishop in order to secure a win over him and the Lightning, but can it be done? We’ll find out soon enough.

For the full Lightning lineup, click here.

Next: Is Lundqvist having his Best NHL Postseason Ever?

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