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NHL picks for Friday night. Lightning Locks is back with his pick for the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers matchup on Friday night.
ANALYSIS

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers Prediction: Lightning Will Strike

When: Friday, December 31, 7:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: ESPN+

Total: 6

Spread: Lightning-1 (+165)

ML: Lightning (-120)

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Lightning vs. Rangers Prediction

You are the defending Stanley Cup champs. Let me rephrase that you are the back-to-back, two-time defending Stanley Cup champs, and you just got waxed last night, losing 9-3 to the Florida Panthers. Yes, we all know COVID has caused backup goalies and replacements, but nine goals against you; let's say this team coaching staff and the lack of goalie won't matter the next time they step on the ice. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, " I won't forget this," and we believe him.

Like Clubber Lang in Rocky 2 said, aka Mr. T, "I pity the fool," and today, that analogy exists for this game. I would not want to be the opponent, and it doesn't matter who it is tonight.

The opponent is the New York Rangers, losers of four out of five and just blew a game and lost to these same Florida Panthers who embarrassed Tampa. The Rangers were so excited to get their star goalie Igor Shesterkin back, but he didn't deliver in the 4-3 loss and may still be a little rusty. So Tampa Bay will be salivating tonight to get them back on track and beat up a team that has not been good lately.

Tampa should have one of their goalies back because third-stringer Maxime Lagace and garbage goalie Hugo Alnefelt giving up nine goals in 37 shots will not see the ice again if they don't have to this year. It reminds me of a Zamboni driver who was 42 made his debut a few years ago, but he won the game. Maybe they should try and get their Zamboni guy in Tampa because these guys were opening doors for Florida last night and saying you get a goal, no you get a goal (Oprah says you get a car to everyone, and that's how the Florida players felt yesterday). Tampa did get 42 shots last night, so they are not lacking in offense, and you keep shooting sooner or later, they will go in. With either Vasilevskiy or Elliott in tonight at goal, we are confident Tampa will play much better defense against the inept Rangers offense (27th in the league shots on goal and less than three goals a game average). The Rangers have only won two out of their last seven games, and those were against Arizona and Buffalo (by one goal only), the league's bottom feeders.

The last five times the Rangers have played teams over .500, they have lost, and Tampa owns the Rangers, winning six out of the last seven against them.

With a better goalie, a game at home, being embarrassed last night, the fact they took 42 shots and are clicking offensively, the injuries on the Rangers blue line, and a rusty goalie, we don't see the Rangers winning this game at all (five out of the last ten games they scored two or less helps us as well). Tampa has 12 goals in 3 games while the Rangers have 12 in 6. This team can't score consistently. So we will lay the -120 and take the Lightning to win 4-2, 3-2 and get that bitter taste out to end the year before they face these same Rangers to start the new year.

Lightning vs. Rangers Pick

Lightning ML (-120)

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