Don't let the result of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals fool you - the Tampa Bay Lightning's rust has been shaken off, much like the reigning Stanley Cup Champs will shake off their subpar performance in the series opener. While the New York Rangers looked sharp, energized, and carried play on both ends of the ice in Game 1, I'm expecting the champs to punch back hard tonight in Game 2.
Tried and tested, the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions know what it takes to win in the playoffs - a short memory and avoiding losing two games in a row at all costs. In fact, the Bolts have not lost back-to-back games over the past three postseasons. Let me repeat that, the Bolts have not lost back-to-back games over the past three postseasons.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a record of 17-0 coming off a playoff loss in this span. But what's even more impressive is how they do it. It starts with Andrei Vasilevskiy's heroics between the pipes (5 shutouts), along with focused defensive efforts which have led to an average of 1.47 goals against per game in these scenarios. However, it's not just stout D and strong goaltending, the Lightning's offense has averaged 3.94 goals per game in these situations.
I'm going to bank on the Champs coming out fired up and ready to go tonight, and will gladly accept the generous buyback on the Bolts to win the first period and cover the half a puck.