Lightning running out of time to solve Rangers, Shesterkin

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• The Avalanche are a win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final following a 4-2 win over the Oilers in Game 3.

• Nazem Kadri will miss the remainder of the Western Conference Final and possibly longer following a hit by Evander Kane.

• The Eastern Conference Final shifts to Tampa Bay as the Lightning tries to avoid a 3-0 deficit.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has been the NHL’s best team for the better part of the past seven seasons. They are a constant in the Eastern Conference Final, have been in three Stanley Cup Finals, and have won the past two championships. Over the first two rounds this postseason they beat an outstanding Toronto Maple Leafs teams and then easily swept the Presidents’ Trophy winning Florida Panthers in four consecutive games.

They looked like they flipped the switch and were ready to make a run at the NHL’s first back-to-back-to-back run of Stanley Cups since the early 1980s New York Islanders.

It is very possible they could still get there. Nobody should count them out. But they seem to have certainly met their match in Igor Shesterkin and the New York Rangers as they face a 2-0 series deficit heading into Game 3 of their series on Sunday afternoon.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

It continues a season-long storyline where the Rangers have simply had the Lightning’s number.

In five head-to-head meetings, regular season and playoffs, the Rangers are 5-0-0 against the Lightning this season, outscoring them by a 19-8 margin, including a 13-3 margin during 5-on-5 play . They are the one team that has given Tampa Bay trouble all season.

For the Rangers, it has been their standard operating procedure all year: They do not have great overall numbers in the win in terms of shots or scoring chances, it may not always look pretty, but they find a way to get it done with a combination of stellar goaltending from Igor Shesterkin and some timely scoring from their power play and top-line players.

That goaltending from Shesterkin is the real key in both the regular season and playoffs as he has owned the head-to-head meeting between two of the league’s elite goalies.

He has started all five Rangers games against the Lightning this season and owns a staggering .951 save percentage in those games.

[Conn Smythe watch: McDavid, Shesterkin lead after two rounds]

Andrei Vasilevskiy, by comparison, has just an .863 save percentage in his four starts against the Rangers.

That is what Tampa Bay needs to rapidly change if it is to get back in this series.

Vasilevskiy can play better and there is every reason to believe he will. That will definitely help things. Solving Shesterkin is another matter entirely. And they are running out of time to make that happen.

The worst deficit Tampa Bay has faced since the start of the 2020 playoffs has been one game, so a 2-0 deficit is most definitely uncharted territory for them. They can’t afford to make it 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.

NEW YORK RANGERS v. 1.0 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (NYR leads 2-0)

Game 1 – Rangers 6, Lightning 2
Game 2 – Rangers 3, Lightning 2
Game 3 – June 5: Rangers at Lightning, 3 pm ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 4 – June 7: Rangers at Lightning, 8 pm ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 5 – June 9: Lightning at Rangers, 8 pm ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 6 – June 11: Rangers at Lightning, 8 pm ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 7 – June 14: Lightning at Rangers, 8 pm ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)

* If necessary

More NHL News

Avalanche take commanding 3-0 series lead, push Oilers to brink Avs ‘Nazem Kadri out for series after hit by Evander Kane Bruins’ blueliners needed surgeries, including McAvoy

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Wraparound: Lightning running out of time to solve Rangers, Shesterkin originally appeared on NBCSports.com

Leave a Comment