The Rangers battled back from deficits in both the first round (3-1) and second round (2-0), but they won’t be facing off against any more second- or third-string goaltenders.
Like the Rangers, the Lightning’s MVP is their goaltender, and Andrei Vasilevskiy might be the only goaltender better than Igor Shesterkin right now. Vasilevskiy held the Panthers (the NHL’s best offensive team in 26 years) to just three goals in four games, while Shesterkin held the Hurricanes to fewer than 2.0 goals per game. If either team goes on to win the Stanley Cup, goaltending will be a big reason why. Shesterkin has posted a .928 save percentage in the playoffs, just behind Vasilevskiy’s .932 mark.
Lightning forward Brayden Point is still out with an injury, and even though the team says he is progressing, information has been scarce (as it often is at this time of year). It doesn’t look like Point will play anytime soon, so I’m handicapping the series with the assumption he’ll be out of the lineup. It’s a big loss for the Lightning, especially considering that goals will likely be hard to come by in the Eastern Conference finals.