Tonight is the start of the second round (doesn’t that have a great ring to it?)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a great deal of time to relax and wait for the winner of the Isles/Panthers series. They had a good 5 game victory against the Wings, with their top forward and top defensemen on the shelf.
And with Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman still out of the lineup, the Bolts made easy work of the Wings with the “Triplets” lineup of Nikita Krucherov, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. 20 points and 8 of the 12 goals scored were compliments of the number one line.
The Isles and Lightning are similarly matched in the fact that the primary line has been responsible for most of the scoring to date. Getting involvement from the secondary lines will be crucial to the success of the winner of this series.
Does Jack Capuano move Frans Nielsen back to the second line, and try to spread the scoring throughout the team. Getting Ryan Strome back (see yesterday’s article) back and in a mood to make a big stand can play a role.
Then – there are the goalies. Ben Bishop and Thomas Greiss have similary GAG’s, but the latter has faced more pucks, especially with the consecutive double overtime matchups. These huge guys, cover a lot of net, so it will be tough getting pucks by these guys.
The Isles had a 2-1 advantage during the regular season. Of course, that means absolutely nothing. For the Isles to succeed in this opening game and steal a win, they need to play their game, forecheck hard, and get all four lines involved. The one that gets their second and third (possibly fourth) lines on the score sheet, will win this game, vis a vis, the series.
In the past series, the opponent got first goals on the Isles in 5 of the 6 games, with some in the first 5 minutes of the contest. The Isles need to get through that patch, stay even, or on top, and not be succumbed into pressure situations by being behind. The Isles were down in most of the games, but came on top. To be fair, they were quite lucky that the opponent did not flip them for the pin.
The visitors tonight need to work hard to ensure that the triplets are off the scoresheet tonight. Numbers, 2, 3 and 55 need to be on their game, and shut them down.
Should be a cracking game tonight. Let the fun begin!