How the Tampa Bay Lightning could still win the Stanley Cup

DENVER — Steven Stamkos Answered question after answer, dark circles under the eyes that he topped with an untidy beard. He stared straight ahead. He didn't look behind him at this smoldering mess. Game 2 You can find the Stanley Cup Final.

“People will be watching this game, and they'll probably conclude that the series is over.” It's a loss for the playoffs. “We have to get up as a team as well as as a person,” said the Lightning captain. Let's go home, let's show our fans what we can do and get back to work.

The Colorado Avalanche To take a 2-0 series lead, he defeated the Lightning in Game 2, 7-1. The first period was complete. In the third period, there was only one question: when would the Avalanche fan sing the Blink-182 songalong?

“Is it painful losing a game such as that?” For sure. It is something that we don't like. Jon Cooper, our coach, stated that this doesn't actually happen to him.

Although the Stanley Cup champions who have won back-toback Stanley Cup titles are rare, they are not invincible. Lightning: The rallying cry ahead Game 3 Monday night was a repeat of the previous: Down 2-0, to the New York Rangers The Eastern Conference finalsThey won four straight games.

The Rangers aren’t the Avalanche, however. Game 2 at Madison Square Garden provided enough proof of concept for Tampa Bay to feel confident it could defeat its rivals. Denver Game 2 offered no comparable evidence.

“We are in the same position as we were against Rangers going home 0-2. We found a way for Game 3 to be won at the conclusion of the game there,” winger Corey Perry said. “It regenerated us. It gave us the energy to get going again.”

The Avalanche looked faster and more powerful, and they played “as perfect of a match as you can get from players,” as Colorado coach Jared Bednar stated. While the Lightning are confident, they have struggled with execution, pushback, results.

This is the only way they can rally. The Bolts must do five things to win the third consecutive Stanley Cup.


There are no more horrible starts

Sometimes, a balloon can burst when it gets punctured. This causes it to be propelled through the air until it is completely deflated. This was Game 2 for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning had their best game, with the first 30 seconds being the most exciting. They were able to get the puck deep into Colorado's zone and start getting to their forecheck. The game looked promising!

Then defenseman Erik Cernak Inability to keep the puck in its own zone, the Avalanche made a few turnovers back in Lightning's zone. Ryan McDonagh He did what the Lightning absolutely, positively couldn't do to start Game 2, and he took a hooking penalty, giving the Lightning the opportunity to take control of the game.

“It was an undisciplined penality by me. McDonagh stated, “It is not a good strategy to give a team power plays in the first minutes.” You're inviting disaster and danger when you do this. This was a terrible time to start.

This was particularly true since it came after a poor start to Game 1. In the first 9 minutes, the Avalanche had a 2-0 lead.

McDonagh stated that “We need to get out there and execute better right off the start of each game and carry that throughout the show.” Before Game 2.

The Avalanche won Game 2 3-0, just 13:52 in.

“Did it go as smoothly as we could?” It's probably not. Of course, you guys are there to watch the game. Cooper stated that it was all downhill from there.

The Avalanche finished tied for second in goals (50), while tied for fifth in home goals allowed during the regular season. This is why the Avalanche's fast starts in the Stanley Cup Finals are not that surprising. The Lightning were a better defensive team at home in the first period (seventh place in the league this regular-season) than they were on the road (20th).

The key is to get started. The Lightning need to have something to build upon. They are 6-1 in playoffs when they lead after the opening period, and 1-5 when trailing. They are 9-2 when scoring first. They can find the confidence they are looking for with a strong 20-minute opening. Or, given how this series has progressed, a competent 10 minute.


You can have the puck

Tampa Bay had 16 shots on target, the most of any Lightning team this season. It was also their lowest total in playoffs play since they scored 15 goals against the Lightning. Carolina Hurricanes Their 2021 second-round series will be played in Game 2.

“We need to find a way to gain momentum and get shots on the net. Forward Nick Paul said.

You won't get any shots if the puck isn't yours.

In seven of their 19 postseason matches, the Lightning failed to score 44% of their even-strength shots attempts. Both Denver and Calgary were included in this statistic. It's not surprising that Game 2 was their lowest point in the season as a possession-team: They attempted 29.3% of their shots, which is the lowest percentage they have ever achieved in a regular season or postseason match.

The Lightning don't possess a lot of possession. They were 12th for shot attempts in regular season and under 50% in playoffs. They were able to control the puck at 5-on-5 with the Rangers. They won four straight games against the Rangers. Florida Panthers Without the shot-attempt advantage in any one of those games.

They are not able to afford that luxury against Colorado, which is why they have been the NHL's most successful goal-scoring playoff teams since 1985. Controlling the puck requires controlling the pace. The Avalanche have been the most notable difference-maker in this series.

Stamkos stated, “It's definitely the fastest team we played, so it was important to find a way that they can slow down.” “Partly, our execution is to place pucks in areas that can neutralize their speed so they don't turn the puck over.” They are not getting freebies like I thought they did. [in Game 2]. There is a game plan to slow down their speed.

However, controlling the puck can also mean getting offensive opportunities. The heat map of shot attempts for Game 2 was a comparison between the Avalanche and the surface of the sun. Meanwhile, the Lightning looked like a melting limepopsicle in their offensive zone.

Darcy Kuemper For the shutout, 16 saves were made in Game 2. None were memorable. In Game 1, the Lightning rallied and forced overtime, making Kuemper seem like the potential liability many believed he was before this series. Kuemper scored minus-1.09 goals to save more than expected and surrendered one goal. Mikhail Sergachev From the blue line.

Ask the Lightning and you'll find out that puck possession problems start at a micro level.

“Everyone needs to see themselves in the mirror, and win every battle that comes their way. This one is hard to swallow. This must be over. Paul stated, “We have to work as a team and find our way out of this mess.” “When we start giving them opportunities and turning the puck over, the game starts to change.”

Take the fight to victory Take the puck home. You might win the game.


“It's NOT you, it is me”

Champion's psychology believes it can win any situation when it competes to its best. All champions know that they must respect their opponents.

The Lightning were a little too respectful of the Avalanche, if you listen to them after the first two games in this series.

It's the hockey equivalent of “it's NOT you, it's ME.”

“You may have focused too much attention on the opponent. Perhaps you should circle back and put more emphasis on yourself. Cooper asked, “Why are we in this particular situation?” Cooper said, “That's something that we must do. They can't do anything that we can control. We must control what we do, and we haven't.

Lightning have a proven track record of this mindset. They adjusted their own lineups to get out of that hole against Rangers and focused on the turns they were gift wrapping for their opponents. They were more careful with the puck. They earned their opportunities.

For two games against Rangers, the Lightning looked different. Then they won four straight Stanley Cup Finals. They've certainly not been themselves against Avalanche thus far.

Stamkos explained that “there were so many things which were very uncharacteristic for our group.” They deserve credit. While you should give them credit for the execution, there is a fine line between respecting your opponent and having too much respect for them. We need to understand that our group got here because of a reason. Let's go back to the game. They have an amazing team, with incredible skill at each position. But so does our group. Let's see what we can do when we return home.

It is possible to believe that the Lightning's resilience, adaptability and execution which have defined their past 11 playoff series wins can be a part of this team's future success.

“We have a group we can circle the wagons with and respond to. The journey was not easy [Game 2] There's no doubt that they did. But I am not questioning the team. They are ballers there. Cooper stated, “So turn the page and move on to Game 3.”


Vasilevskiy can't be trusted.

Colorado had an opposing goalie record of.886 in this postseason. Colorado had some good fortune, as it was facing David Rittich Instead of Juuse SarosHave you ever thought of having? Jordan Binnington To go from a postseason goalie trying to find his groove to a water bottle-tossing injured netminder Nevertheless, some of this is due to the Avalanche's offensive steamroller nature.

This series featured the latter. Andrei Vasilevskiy Is one of the most successful postseason goalies in NHL history. He is also the reason Tampa Bay was able to bounce back from Game 2 defeats, with a 9-2 record.

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Andrei Vasilveskiy extends out to make a spectacular snag in second period, in an effort slow down Avalanche attacks.

Vasilevskiy has a save percentage of.838 in the Stanley Cup Final. Cooper said that he was on the hook for seven of the seven goals in Game 2. He decided to keep him in the Stanley Cup Final because he “doesn't believe he would have come out” if Cooper tried to pull him.

Is it time for Vasilevskiy to be worried? In this series, he's facing roughly the same amount of high-danger shots (7.43 per sixty minutes, per Natural Stat Trick), as he was in the rest (7.44). His high-danger save percentage in this series (.667), however, is totally out of line with the rest (.891). His 60-minute goal average this series (3.00) was slightly lower than the 2.86 in the previous rounds. The biggest change is in rebound attempts. Vasilevskiy averages 6.94 minutes per 60 against the Avalanche, compared to 3.61 per 60 for most of the playoffs.

Vasilevskiy has helped the Lightning get out of many postseason jams during their run. He might be able to find his fastball again at home. They might be able return the favor by bailing him out.

“We let him go. He has been our backbone for many years. Stamkos stated, “We owe it all to him to have the best game next time.” This is by no means an onus on him. As a group, we have to do better.”


Let the stars be your guide!

The Avalanche engaged in strength vs. force, sending Nathan MacKinnonThe Lightning's checking line with Stamkos and Kucherov was used regularly in Games 1 and 2. MacKinnon’s line did not see the top Tampa Bay group. It saw the Lightning’s checking line with Anthony Cirelli.

Bednar stated, “I'm okay with Nate going up against their top guys. I'm comfortable for him going against a screening line.”

He would be, why wouldn't he? This is MacKinnon's line. Gabriel Landeskog And Valeri Nichushkin It had a 9-0 shot attempt advantage in Game 2, when it was playing at 5-on-5. Now, it has a ridiculous 28-3 shot-attempt lead for the series.

Stamkos only had one goal attempt in Game 2, and hasn't scored a point throughout the series. Kucherov failed to make a shot in Game 2 and neither did Stamkos. Ondrej Palat. Victor Hedman He had three shots, but was also a plus-3. Brayden PointAfter missing two series due to injury, he has only one shot and one assist in the two remaining games.

They are playing at an elite level right this moment. Give them credit. Cooper said, “We are not.” Cooper said, “These two teams are very good. They are playing at a higher level of play than we are, which I believe was evident when I watched them. [Game 2]. We must elevate our game.”

The Stanley Cup has twice been engraved with the names of Tampa Bay's players. They are the ones who won MVP trophies and were postseason heroes. If the Lightning want to be back in this series, and revive their three-peat hopes, they must lead the charge.

“We are not defeated in the locker room. Stamkos stated that we get the chance to return home in front our fans, something we haven’t done yet.


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