James O'Brien

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Another cloudy injury situation: Lightning balk on Kucherov update

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Stop the presses: the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t being particularly up-front about an injury situation in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. This time around, we’re left to speculate about the status of winger Nikita Kucherov.

At this point, you might as well stick with what’s happening, and all you need to know is that Kucherov hasn’t been on the ice since he crashed into Chicago’s net in the first period. He missed all of the middle frame thanks to this violent fall:

Right now, the only updates are non-updates:

Perhaps we’ll find out more after Game 5? Maybe he’ll grit through it in the third period? We’ll keep an eye out for updates going forward, but details are slim right now.

Video: Filppula connects on brilliant pass to tie Game 5

Things look awfully tenuous for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5, especially with Nikita Kucherov still MIA. A tying goal can really allow some sunshine to sneak through, though.

The Bolts’ aggressiveness paid off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period, as Jason Garrison eventually sent this outstanding pass to Valtteri Filppula, who managed to settle the puck down enough to tuck it in:

Just like that, the game is tied 1-1; the Lightning drew a penalty that didn’t result in a goal, yet it feels like the tenor of Game 5 just changed. At least for a stretch.

Manchester Monarchs, Kings’ AHL affiliate, win 2015 Calder Cup

monarchs
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While we get closer to deciding a Stanley Cup champion, the 2015 Calder Cup winner has already been determined, as the Manchester Monarchs beat the Utica Comets 2-1 to win the series in Game 5.

The Monarchs are the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate while the Comets serve that role for the Vancouver Canucks.

Vincent LoVerde and Adrian Kempe found the net for the Monarchs while Patrik Bartosak ended up being the winning goalie. Meanwhile, Jacob Markstrom & Co. couldn’t get the job done for the Comets.

Cal O’Reilly scored for Utica with an empty net and 14 seconds remaining, but the Comets’ comeback attempt ultimately fell short on Saturday night.

Video: Bishop’s gaffe leads to Chicago goal, Kucherov crashes hard

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Yikes, just yikes.

The first period of Game 5 has not gone well for the Tampa Bay Lightning. To start things off, the Chicago Blackhawks really carried the play early.

Things got rocky when both goalies suffered through puckhandling mishaps, yet the Lightning came out limping in both instances.

First, Nikita Kucherov nearly pounced on a Corey Crawford blunder, only to bash his shoulder into the post.

What came next was even worse, though. Ben Bishop and Victor Hedman clearly had a communication breakdown, as Hedman’s touch threw Bishop off, they both collided and Patrick Sharp scored the easiest goal you can imagine in this scenario:

It was a bad decision by Bishop, especially considering his shaky health. The best news for Tampa Bay is that as rough as this situation is, it’s still just 1-0.

Other than that? Yeah, that was pretty bad.

Bishop is Tampa Bay’s Game 5 starter; Drouin’s in

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three
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After a typical run of secrecy, Ben Bishop will be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Game 5 starter.

We still don’t know what, exactly, is ailing the 28-year-old. Many believe he’s ailing on his left side. We are unlikely to find out for sure until after the Stanley Cup is raised. Andrei Vasilevskiy is available to step in if Bishop cannot finish Game 5, though.

Bishop was apparently the one to make the call to miss Game 4, as agonizing as that decision was.

He remarkably won Game 3 despite his limited mobility, stopping 36 out of 38 shots by the Blackhawks in an impressive showing of resiliency.

Overall, he has a .919 save percentage in the playoffs and has especially impressed as the games have gotten bigger. (In all three instances in which Tampa Bay eliminated an opponent in this posteason, Bishop notched a shutout).

Here’s a (subjective) side-by-side comparison of the two:

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In other lineup notes, Jonathan Drouin draws back into the mix, sending Nikita Nesterov to the press box. The Lightning return to a typical skating setup after multiple games rolling with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Oh, and here are the officials: