The third round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs kicked off last night in the West, but now it’s time for Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning for the Eastern Conference Final. Unlike the other series, the storyline is primarily in net with a battle between two Russian netminders: Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Rangers are perceived as the underdogs in this series, but they’ve been labeled that all playoffs and have still won two seven-game series in a row to get to the ECF. New York first defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in an exciting first-round series then traded wins with the Carolina Hurricanes before finally handing the Canes their first home loss of the playoffs to knock them out. Shesterkin started a bit shaky but was absolutely the main factor to defeating the higher seeded Carolina.
For Tampa, they faced some adversity early with a seven-game series of their own against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they got some relief with a sweep of the Florida Panthers in the second round. No one is surprised that the Lightning have made it this far, but it’s been interesting to see how much they’ve relied on Vasilevskiy to carry the team, especially in their quick elimination of Florida.
Wednesday, June 1
*All times Central