Yeah I used a 1994 song title for this blog in 2019, big whoop.
The point is that it’s over for the Tampa Bay Lightning. With 62 wins in an 82 game season, they have yet to record a win in three games to the last seed in the Eastern Conference. Since the first period of Game One, they have only mustered two goals in the next 160 minutes.
Before I go any further– full marks to John Tortorella for amping up his team to go out and take it to the top seed in hockey. There were many questions about if this team would even make it to the playoffs after going all-in at the Trade Deadline, but now it’s looking like it’s finally paying off. The fact they are a win away from completing one of the biggest upsets in playoff history shows this is a team who somehow found chemistry in the last month of the season.
But now to the Lightning– who in the previous four post-seasons have been to the Conference Finals three times and the Stanley Cup Final once. They have had one of the most potent offenses in the league and developed some low-key players– like Brayden Point– into a diamond in the rough. Hell, they just re-signed Jon Cooper to a multi-year extension at the end of March.
How much are they rethinking this after the Bolts developed a case of the Presidents Trophy flu??
But let’s not just use the coach as a scapegoat. No, let’s look at the scoring for the Bolts…or lackthereof. Steven Stamkos– zero points. Victor Hedman– zero points. Nikita Kucherov– no points and was suspended. The aforementioned Point– zero points. Defensively hasn’t been much better with Andrei Vasilevskiy being either bored or tired or both– sporting a GAA around four and a save percentage of .866.
Maybe, just maybe the window for a Cup has been shuttered down. Maybe, this team is just a really good regular season team and then playoffs they morph into the proverbial pumpkin at midnight. Sure does sound like the Caps before last season, this much I know.
Yet, is this a team with the chops to counterattack the possible biggest upset ever with the possible biggest comeback ever?? Well, Vasilevskiy switched pads, so who knows?? But it’s up to Jon Cooper to rally the troops and make it happen. It seems that, however, once they hit the easy button after those first 20 minutes of the series, the team is in a funk it can’t snap out of. You’d think that first game would be a wake-up call to maybe dial into that higher gear they were able to find in the regular season.
Then in Game Two they got trounced on home-ice.
When you have played this many games in a five-year span, you’d have to think your horses are gassed, regardless of the conditioning. You look at the Pittsburgh Penguins right now and they seem to be feeling that same effect in these playoffs as well.
There was going to be a change in Tampa regardless due to the salary cap issues and four of their defensemen turning into UFAs and Brayden Point being an RFA and will probably command an handsome bank for his regular season efforts. As it stands right now, who knows who will stay and who will go– but this team may have a longer time to stew about it when they get eliminated in the next coming days.