The New York Rangers only beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 1, but they controlled much of the proceedings. It was surprising to see a fairly optimistic Jon Cooper after the contest, then.
… That optimism sure faded after Cooper got a hold of the game tape, though.
Just breathe in the (kind of hilarious) negativity Cooper shared after breaking everything down, via the Tampa Bay Times:
“There’s the times you think you played okay, and you watch the tape and you want to vomit,” Cooper said. “And that was a little bit of how (Saturday) night went. For two periods, I thought we were a little better than we were until I watched the tape. The Rangers played extremely well, but we were stubbing our toe all night. So we were just handing them tickets to the movie, and we were a turnstile and watching them go by. We can’t do that. We can’t be giving pucks away, we can’t be turning them over, we can’t not make them go the 200 feet.”
“We’ve got to be much better than we were. And I’m quite convinced we will.”
Here’s the thing: Cooper’s assessment on Sunday was a lot more accurate than his post-game grading.
The Lightning were thoroughly outplayed on Saturday, allowing a troubling number of odd-man rushes and dangerous chances, with Ben Bishop almost keeping them in long enough to steal a win. By just about every measure, it seemed a lot more lopsided than 2-1:
(Chart via Natural Stat Trick)
The question, then, is how much of this is the Lightning having an “off game” and how much is it the Rangers just playing like the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners?
Perhaps lineup changes may factor in? It sounds like Brian Boyle’s Game 2 availability is very much in doubt, but Cooper can still make some tweaks, including perhaps adding Nikita Nesterov back to the defensive mix.
Either way, there’s no doubt Tampa Bay needs to improve its play. At least Cooper realizes that now.