For the third straight year, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be taking on a team from New York in the Eastern Conference Final. The New York Rangers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 6-2 in Game seven of their second round series to advance to play the Lightning who have been awaiting their opponent for a full week.
In their game seven win, the Rangers handed the Carolina Hurricanes their first loss on home ice in the playoffs thanks to a five-goal outburst and the play of likely Vezina Trophy winning goaltender, Igor Shesterkin.
Tampa Bay did not have a lot of sucess in the regular season against the Rangers, going 0-2-1 against the Blue Shirts. In the three defeats, Tampa Bay was outscored 10-3. Do not put too much stock into this, the playoffs are completely different.
This will be the second meeting between the Lightning and Rangers in the conference final after Tampa Bay knocked off the Rangers in seven games to advance to the 2015 Cup Final. In that series the Lightning became the first team to ever win a game seven in Madison Square Garden thanks to a 2-0 shutout by Ben Bishop.
The series gets under way Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. There will be plenty of talk about rest versus rust as Tampa Bay will not have played in nine days. The Rangers will be coming off of two straight series that have gone the distance.
Matchup to watch: Andrei Vasilevskiy vs Igor Shesterkin.
The goalie matchup will steal all of the headlines with the best goalie in the NHL in recent years taking on the best goalie from this past season. Whether or not it is time for Shesterkin to dethrone Vasilevskiy will have to wait. Vasilevskiy will have the advantage somewhat in terms of rest at least as Shesterkin has had to play 14 games already through two rounds.