Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop silenced some critics with a Game 5 shutout, but as is often the case, blanking the New York Rangers 2-0 also came down to how his teammates (and opponents) performed.
For the Lightning, it was exactly the type of game they need to play to win it all, as much-heralded defenseman Anton Stralman notes.
Different people beyond the marquee stars were highlighted, as Jon Cooper called Tampa Bay’s penalty kill a key while Bishop thought Brian Boyle’s shot-blocking was most impressive.
Steven Stamkos, meanwhile, goes on to praise Tampa Bay’s defensive effort as its best since they shut down the Montreal Canadiens to end their second-round series in Game 6.
Of course, there’s the flip side of the coin: the Rangers feel like they didn’t do enough to beat Bishop, who stopped all 26 of their shots.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault noted how much time New York spent in Tampa Bay’s zone for stretches of Game 5, yet they didn’t have much to show for it. To the NHL on NBC crew, it all comes down to a lack of net-front presence:
In other words, Bishop’s most painful moments might have come before the game even started.
New York needs to find a way to get through the strong defense of players like Stralman and Hedman (plus the fearless work of guys including Boyle) to put more heat on Bishop going forward, or their dreams of another Stanley Cup Final appearance might get dashed.
The Rangers got through the first two rounds on the strength of 2-1 victories, but in Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference Final they weren’t able to contain the Tampa Bay Lightning. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers will be looking to bounce back tonight after surrendering six goals in each of those contests.
The game is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m. ET and you can tune in as early as 7:00 for pregame coverage. The contest will air on NBCSN and it can also be streamed via NBC Sports Live Extra:
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Here are some relevant links:
It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet
Brian Boyle is right, ‘The Triplets’ are scary good
All eyes on Lundqvist
Twins joining Triplets? Watch out if Stamkos, Killorn keep heating up
Bolts rule Carle (undisclosed) out for Game 4
One could excuse many hockey fans for not being totally aware of Tampa Bay’s trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov before the playoffs began. You really can’t miss “The Triplets” if you’ve paid attention to the postseason, though.
Kucherov scored the 6-5 overtime tally in Game 3, yet the chemistry Palat and Johnson showed probably exemplified the trio’s dominance more than anything else. All three forwards scored at least one goal on Wednesday.
Here’s the Kucherov clincher:
While Johnson assisting Palat was a work of art:
The rave reviews keep piling in, too.
Brian Boyle described “The Triplets” as “scary good.” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper really nailed the notion that the trio is making a mainstream breakthrough:
Some might be wondering how the Rangers can slow them down, beyond maybe slowing down the general level of play. One hint may be to try to avoid less-than-ideal matchups.
Here’s the problem, though. If you shift to many sources against “The Triplets,” then Steven Stamkos’ line could take over. Actually, that already seems to be happening; Stamkos is asserting himself while Alex Killorn is making an impression:
For some, this is a coming out party, yet careful observers noticed the trio as one of the best lines in the NHL in 2014-15. That latter group may end up expecting this kind of dominance … but they might not be alone.
It’s hard not to, though, right?
Now we just need to come up with a better nickname than “The Triplets.”
The New York Rangers had an ideal opportunity to take an early lead against Tampa Bay as Lightning forward Brian Boyle got two minutes for holding and then teammate Jason Garrison was sent to the box for a delay of game less than a minute later.
Not only did the Rangers fail to capitalize on that extended 5-on-3, but Tyler Johnson ended up scoring a shorthanded breakaway goal after Rangers forward Martin St. Louis gave up the puck.
The goal was initially waived off because the net was knocked off its moorings, but a review determined that it was a good goal. You can see that below:
The Rangers were able to get some measure of redemption though as Tampa Bay’s Brenden Morrow was called off for high sticking at 8:15 of the first frame and Chris Kreider was able to convert on the power play:
Brian Boyle was something of a surprise scratch in Game 1 due to an undisclosed injury. The Lightning were secretive about his status in the lead up to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final tonight, but as it turns out he’s good to go.
Boyle was put back into the lineup and is projected to play alongside Brenden Morrow and J.T. Brown on the fourth line. Vladislav Namestnikov, who skated with Morrow and Brown in Game 1, will be a healthy scratch after dressing in 11 of the Lightning’s first 12 playoff contests. Namestnikov was limited to just 6:52 minutes of ice time on Saturday.
By contrast, Boyle has averaged 15:36 minutes per contest in the postseason, including 2:49 in shorthanded situations. The Lightning suffered a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 without him.
“(Boyle’s) a big part of our team,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after that contest. “He kills penalties for us. He’s a big body. He can wear on teams. Of course we miss him.”
On second thought, Game 1 made Lightning’s Cooper ‘want to vomit’