Before the Flyers hold their practice this afternoon and we get a
hint of what Laviolette may do with his goaltenders in Game 2 — or we
aren’t told anything at all — I figured we could go ahead and debate
whether the Flyers should turn back to Michael Leighton.
allowed five goals on 20 shots, and while he certainly isn’t to
completely blame for the loss he wasn’t just a victim of some horrible
defense by the Flyers. He certainly didn’t look like the confident
goaltender who recorded three shutouts against the Canadiens, and
resembled a goaltender without much overall experience making his first
start in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Flyers haven’t faced a team
with the offensive firepower of the Chicago Blackhawks, and it certainly
showed. So now we ask whether the Flyers should turn back to Leighton
in Game 2 after he was pulled, or should the Flyers stick with veteran
Boucher is the veteran, and he’s experienced when
it comes to the way the game amps up the deeper you get in the playoffs.
Leighton appeared unprepared for how fast the game would be, how the
nerves would affect himself and the team. Boucher looked good in relief,
despite allowing the winning goal and you have to wonder if sticking
with Boucher would give the Flyers some stability after such an out of
control effort in Game 1.
Still, teams are generally hesitant to
flat out switch goaltenders in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals.
Would going right back to Boucher, after it was the entire team and not
just Leighton that had the bad game, be sending the wrong message to the
There’s also the fact that teams sometimes just play
differently in front of one goaltender over another. Perhaps having
Boucher in net will calm the Flyers, especially with how the defense
performed in Game 1. Still, Leighton was the goaltender that played so
well in the series against the Canadiens and you wonder if he deserves
at least a chance to acquit himself after a poor showing in the opening
game of the series.
You have to think that Laviolette will
start Leighton in Game 2, but keep him on a very short leash. Still, you
wonder if the Blackhawks were right, saying before the series started
that they thought Leighton played so well because of the defense in
front of him and not because of his particularly strong play.
Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.
(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)
Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:
Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”
“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”
Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.
Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.
It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.
Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.
Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.
Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.
Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.
Read more about Game 6 here.
The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.
With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.
There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.
What if that offside goal counted?
Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:
Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.
What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?
The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.
Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?
Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.
Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.
Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?
More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.
With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.
Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.
The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.