2022 Stanley Cup playoffs — Eastern Conference finals takeaways from the first two games

The Tampa Bay Lightning The Eastern Conference Finals matchup was against the New York Rangers After a thorough sweep of the Florida Panthers As a well-rested group, you get nine days off between series.

The Lightning are struggling offensively in this series. They look sloppy and out of tune against a Rangers team who has been winning seven straight games. New York beat the Lightning 6-2, Game 1. Game 2 was close, but the Rangers were able play at their speed and kept Tampa Bay on its heels. 3-2 victory To build a lead in the 2-0 series.

Gerard Gallant, Rangers coach, said that “We've been tough out so far.” “I believe we're an excellent hockey team. We have played excellent hockey in the playoffs. We are able to win games.

The action is moving to Tampa for Game 3. Here are five key takeaways from an amazing opening to the series. The Lightning went from racing toward a threepeat to fighting to their playoff lives.

Rangers are real

This is what we've seen before in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The postseason journey is where teams find their identity. Teams who “learn to win” in difficult moments such as when the Rangers lost three overtime and were down 3-1 in series to defeat them, are called resilient. Pittsburgh Penguins, or rallying around 2-0 and 3-3-2 holes to upset Carolina Hurricanes. The pieces that their general managers put together suddenly fit together in teams that are healthy or have the right line combinations.

The Rangers' four playoff games were their best. They have the puck in their possession and are buzzing the offensive area. They can score balanced points from multiple lines, and multiple defensemen. If their systems fail and their opponents have their chance, the goalie is responsible. Igor Shesterkin It was amazing: A.946 save percentage. They did not give up more than 2 goals in four games, while the Rangers averaged 5 goals per game.

“We knew all year that we wouldn't be able to win the playoffs. The room believes that we will succeed. Defenseman: The outside opinions aren't going to affect anyone. Adam Fox said. “I don’t believe the outside noise or perceptions of our team really impacts our mindset going into the game.”

The streak is over

Since 2020, the Tampa Bay Lightning was able to depend on one thing: If they lost a playoffs game, they would win their next one. It happened three times against the odds in the first round. Toronto Maple Leafs. They achieved this feat in 18 consecutive games, a NHL record. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy It was an 18-0 record with a 1.49 goals against average, a 0.942 save percentage, and five shutouts during this remarkable run.

The Lightning lost Game 1 against the Rangers. The Rangers won Game 1. they lost the streak In Game 2.

“You're going to lose two consecutive games in the playoffs at some point. It's amazing that we haven’t lost in the playoffs in so many years. One second and you could say, “Hell of a job boys.” However, most streaks end in the end. And it did for us tonight,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated. Did it knock us out the playoffs?” It didn't. Do we have a mountain to climb? There's no question. That's not what I think Captain Obvious is saying. However, I believe that we have more in us.”

The Lightning had some positive things to draw from in Game 2. This game was tighter than the 6-2 loss in Game 1. During the second half, they returned to their core competencies — north/south offensive, turning defense into offense, and earning their zone times — and won Game 2.

However, the Lightning and Vasilevskiy didn't have that magical elasticity to bounce back from losses. Vasilevskiy has surrendered three goals in each of his four playoff games.

“There were some positive indicators about what happened during the second half. However, there are no moral victories. Cooper said that they still lost.

Adam Fox is an elite

The NHL has a lot of young defensemen. Cale MakarAdam Fox lives in a world similar to's and is living it, even though he beat out the Colorado Avalanche Last season's Norris Trophy wunderkind was Makar. Makar is having an extraordinary postseason. She has scored record for defensemen and is helping to stop the unimaginable offense of Connor McDavidThis is why Fox's playoff run hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

Fox now has 22 points and is among the Rangers top scorers. He has run an active point, which maintains that unit in motion and powered their power play. In Game 2, he was averaging 26.41 minutes per night. He is often used by the Rangers to defend against big offensive assignments. Nikita Kucherov He is capable of handling them in the Eastern Conference finals.

Seriously, look at this move How to set it up Kaapo KakkoGame 2's goal: deking Jan Rutta Before heading into the Bronx, he made a flawless pass to Kakko to tip-in. It was a remarkable run for Fox. Although it's not Makar special, it's still special.

Brayden, the Lightning center, has had more postseason goals since 2020 than any other NHL player. Point has 30 tallies in 53 games and 60 points. In the Lightning's Game 7 victory, he sustained a lower-body injury and was forced to leave at 5:51. They didn't need him in their second-round sweep over the not-ready-for-primetime Florida Panthers. They will miss him against the Rangers.

“He is, in my opinion one of the most talented players in the league. This is something I believe I can say without being too harsh. Cooper stated, “He's a big-game guy and he can help tilt ice.” “In a perfect universe, we'd love him back,” Cooper stated. However, it's not as if we haven't won any playoff series without him.

Point has been skating in full gear after Lightning practice, working to get back in game shape and improving his skills for a possible return. Point's return would not only allow the Lightning to reorganize their center position but also add one of the most skilled two-way players to their roster.

Cooper stated, “He's still making progress.” Cooper stated that we are not saying he will miraculously play in Game 3.

(Lopsided] Goalie Duel for the Ages

The Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy vs. the Rangers' Igor Shesterkin matchup was a superstar on paper. Nathan MacKinnon Connor McDavid will be facing Vasilevskiy in the Western Conference finals. Vasilevskiy was the frontrunner for the “best goalie worldwide” title after winning back-toback Stanley Cups, the Conn Smythe Trophy last postseason, and the 2018-19 Vezina Trophy. Also, he led the NHL with five consecutive seasons of wins. Shesterkin, who was expected to challenge him for the title of best goalie in the world, won his first Vezina this year and backed the Rangers through two seven game series wins.

The upstart Shesterkin has been able to defeat the veteran Vasilevskiy. Rangers goalie has a.943 save percent and 3.24 goals saved above what was expected. According to Evolving Hockey, the Lightning goalie is currently 0-2 and has a.828 save rate and minus-3.26 more goals than expected.

Shesterkin stated that his Russian counterpart Vasilevskiy was the “best goalie in the entire world” before the series.

After two stellar games of goaltending, and a Madison Square Garden crowd that chanted “Igor is better!” These wins were won?

“At this time, I don't think it really matters. Shesterkin, speaking through a translator, said that he still believes his opinion. “Andrei still is the best goalie of the world. It's important to remember that the series is limited to four wins.

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