After last night’s 4-1 Lightning win over the Rangers the Eastern Conference Final is now all tied up at two games apiece. The home team has now won each game of the series. The Rangers are now 2-7 on the road, while they are 8-1 at home. The Lightning have been a little more balanced. They have also dominated at home with a 6-1 record but are also 4-4 on the road. The series now becomes a best of 3 with two games being played at Madison Square Garden. This week on The Broadway Hat Podcast I was joined by Hall of Fame NHL media member Stan Fischler. Stan not only told some great stories about his career of covering the Rangers, but he also talked about the series and why he is picking the Rangers.

Injuries

Just like in any playoff series, injuries are a major storyline. Coming into the series the team with the injury concern was the Lightning. Star forward Brayden Point has been out since Game 7 of their First Round series. Now it looks like Point has a chance to appear in this series. Today Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper said he will no longer commit to saying he will be out the entire series with a Game 6 now guaranteed. This is great news for the Lightning. On the other hand, the Rangers who came into the series relatively healthy now have a few major injury concerns.

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 30: Ryan Strome #16 of the New York Rangers reacts following his second period goal in Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on May 30, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Top 6 Center Ryan Strome missed Game 4 after leaving in the Second Period of Game 3 with a leg injury. Strome has been centering Artemi Panarin for the last couple of seasons. Strome has 9 points in the playoffs and is averaging 18:56 minutes of ice time. In Game 4 with the team already missing Strome, the Rangers also lost another Center Filip Chytil midway through the game. Chytil and the Kid Line have been great for the Rangers throughout the playoffs. Chytil in particular might be the biggest surprise. His 7 goals these playoffs are just one shy of his entire regular season total and are 3rd on the team. If the Rangers are without two of the top 9 centers in their lineup it is going to be tough to beat a deep Tampa Bay team.

Defending Home Ice

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 03: The New York Rangers celebrate their victory in game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers on June 3, 2022 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Rangers and Lightning have both been fantastic at home. With Madison Square Garden hosting two of the final 3 games of the series that should be a major edge for the Rangers. The Rangers have now won a franchise-record 8 straight games at home. In the first two games of the series, the Rangers outscored the Lightning 9 to 4. In the past two games, the Rangers have only been able to put 3 pucks past Andrei Vasilevskiy. They will need to find their offense if they want to upset the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions. I am sticking with my Rangers in 7 prediction, but it’s going to be a battle these last 3 games.

Be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers and USA Hockey: @KHallNYYou can also listen to my NY Rangers podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify for Rangers news and interviews with past and current players.

About Author

Kyle Hall

Kyle is a lifelong diehard New York Rangers fan and in 2020 took over as the teams beat writer for Belly Up Sports. Kyle hosts a NY Rangers podcast on the Belly Up Podcast Network called The Broadway Hat Podcast. Kyle also covers USA Hockey and is a credentialed media member of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

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