Tag: Corey Crawford


Bolts lament passive third period: ‘We just sat back way too much’


TAMPA — Former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella used to have a saying:

Safe is death.”

On Wednesday night, his old team should’ve heeded that advice.

The Lightning played it safe in the third period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final and, without getting too hyperbolic, it basically killed them. It was the topic of conversation in the dressing room following the 2-1 loss, in which the Blackhawks rallied to score two goals in 1:58 in the third period — a period that saw the Bolts put just five shots on goal.

“You can’t take anything for granted against a team like that,” defenseman Anton Stralman said. “You can’t give them the room and space we did for 15 minutes in the third period. We just sat back too much and got away from our game a little bit.

“So, lesson learned.”

There were signs Tampa was reverting into a defensive shell in the second period, but the third was when the team really hunkered down. The Bolts rarely ventured forward and went over 13 minutes without registering a shot on Corey Crawford — this from a team that averaged close to 30 a night during the regular season.

“We just got away from playing smart defensive hockey and keeping pressure on them,” captain Steve Stamkos explained. “We’ve done it in the past. Whether it was chips and flips and getting rid of the puck, not making the confident play that we’ve made in the past.

“That’s a tough one to swallow.”

In Tampa Bay’s defense, some of this mentality might’ve carried over from an airtight performance in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. At MSG, the Bolts smothered the Rangers in what was one of the team’s best checking performances of the playoffs; there was also that Game 7 mindset of killing time to get the win, which was clearly on display again tonight.

“Tonight in the third period we played almost a half-ice game,” head coach Jon Cooper explained. “Against a team like Chicago, you can’t let them keep coming at you the way we did.

“I thought we had chances to put them away. We didn’t put them away. And once you do that, to me, that was letting them hang around.”

Comeback ‘Hawks: Chicago stuns Tampa Bay with late rally to take Game 1

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One

TAMPA — It took less than two minutes. One hundred and eighteen seconds, to be exact.

That’s all the Chicago Blackhawks needed to turn Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final completely on its head, as Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette scored 1:58 apart in the third period to earn a 2-1 win and stun the Lightning — and their fans — at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night.

It was a signature comeback win for Chicago, which for the second time this postseason won a game it trailed after two periods. The ‘Hawks also stole home-ice advantage, guaranteeing at least a split in Tampa before heading home to the United Center for Games 3 and 4.

The loss will undoubtedly sting the Bolts. Owners of the NHL’s best offense during the regular season, Tampa Bay took an early first-period lead on Alex Killorn’s slick re-direct, then slowly reverted into a defensive shell.

“We just sat back a little too much,” said Tampa captain Steve Stamkos.

If there was ever a time to trot out the “prevent defense only prevents you from winning” cliché, tonight was that time.

The mantra especially held true in the third period. As the ‘Hawks poured it on, looking to beat Ben Bishop after being stymied for the first 40 minutes, the Lightning played not to lose and went over 13 minutes without a shot on goal in the final frame.

For a series that many expected to be filled with goals and scoring chances, Game 1 didn’t fit the bill. Chicago fired a postseason-low 21 shots on Bishop, while Corey Crawford was forced to make just 22 stops — five of which came in the third period.

As mentioned above, the loss is a stinger for Tampa Bay and it’ll be interesting to see how the club reacts. While it’s only one game and the first of the series, there is some history worth noting — since the Stanley Cup Final went to best-of-7 in 1939, the team that has won Game 1 has gone on to win it all 77 percent of the time.

WATCH LIVE: Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final – Blackhawks at Lightning

Patrick Kane

For many hockey fans, it’s something of a dream series. Whether you lean toward the proven Chicago Blackhawks or the promising Tampa Bay Lightning, you’re unlikely to lament a lack of speed or skill in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

Really, it feels like puckheads are getting spoiled here. On one side, you have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and a bevvy of other talented Blackhawks. Few would dismiss the Lightning’s chances, however, as they boast Steven Stamkos, “The Triplets” and Victor Hedman. Ben Bishop vs. Corey Crawford also makes for an intriguing goalie matchup.

The buildup might have been agonizing for some, but the plus side is that the two teams couldn’t be much more rested this deep into the postseason. Game 1 kicks off in Tampa Bay, so you can soak up the electric atmosphere on NBC and also via NBC Sports Live Extra. Coverage before and after the contest takes place on NBCSN, but you can stream also stream that footage via the links below.

Pre-game stream (NBCSN)

Game 1 stream (NBC)

Post-game stream

PHT’s Stanley Cup Final picks, once again featuring The Coin


If you’re still not familiar with The Coin thing — a 1972 Eisenhower Dollar that we used in the opening three rounds — click here to get up to speed (and bask in all its coinly glow.)

The Coin continued its dominance in the conference finals, accurately predicting that the Bolts and ‘Hawks would advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The Coin improved to 10-4 overall this postseason. Other staff members (of the animate variety) to pick Tampa Bay-Chicago were Brough, Dadoun, Tucker and O’Brien. That leaves our records at:

Jason Brough: 9-5
Mike Halford: 8-6
Ryan Dadoun: 10-4
James O’Brien: 10-4
Cam Tucker: 11-3
Dhiren Mahiban: 9-5

Onto the Final…

Brough: Bolts in 7 (Preseason pick: Tampa Bay)

Easy pick for me. I chose the Lightning in October, and I don’t see any reason to abandon them now. Okay, maybe I see one reason: the Blackhawks. That’s a pretty good team they’ve got in Chicago. And I guess I haven’t been entirely impressed with the Lightning, who’ve been blown out four times at home in these playoffs and were, frankly, lucky to escape the first round. So that’s two reasons. But I’m a stubborn man and I truly do believe the Lightning have all the necessary pieces to upset the favored ‘Hawks.

Halford: Bolts in 7 (Preseason pick: Pittsburgh)

While I love a good narrative, I’m not fully buying into the “inexperienced Bolts will eventually succumb to the veteran Blackhawks” thing. Why? Well, a big part of the reason Tampa Bay’s here is because its young guys have defied expectations, and achieved success quicker than expected — including the coach (five years ago, Jon Cooper was in the USHL finals.) Tampa’s passed every test this postseason, including a historic win at MSG in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Bolt are skilled, they’re fast, they’re deep and, as the first three rounds have shown, they’re ready.

O’Brien: ‘Hawks in 6 (Preseason pick: Chicago)

Remember when the Islanders beat the Gretzky Oilers back in the 80’s, and “The Great One” remarked about the beat-up dynasty members icing themselves in the locker room rather than spraying each other with champagne after besting them for the Cup? This will be a modern version of that series: the Blackhawks will teach the Lightning how to win. Also: when in doubt, choose the West over the East.

Dadoun: ‘Hawks in 7 (Preseason pick: St. Louis)

Chicago doesn’t have the best goaltender in the NHL, but neither does Tampa Bay and at least Corey Crawford is more thoroughly battle tested. The Blackhawks’ bottom-two defensemen are questionable, but with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook leading the charge, they don’t necessary need to be deep to outplay the Lightning. Tampa Bay has plenty of offensive weapons, but Chicago has more proven big-game forwards.

Tucker: ‘Hawks in 6 (Preseason pick: Chicago)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have proven to be an exciting group with a promising future. But they’re facing a Blackhawks team that’s loaded with Stanley Cup champions, led by Jonathan Toews, who had his best moments in these playoffs when it mattered most in the Western Conference Final. Both Ben Bishop and Corey Crawford have gone through ups and downs in these playoffs, but Crawford has settled into a groove after the opening round, while Bishop’s struggles are more recent, and against a goal-strapped New York team. And the Blackhawks have a decidedly more dangerous lineup than the one Bishop faced against the Rangers.

Mahiban: ‘Hawks in 7 (Preseason pick: Chicago)

Chicago’s experience will prevail over the youth and inexperience of Tampa. The Blackhawks’ core pieces know what it takes to win at this time of year. The Bolts, meanwhile, are reminiscent of the 2008 Penguins when a young Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang led Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup final only to lose to Detroit. The experience served the Pens’ young core well as they made it back to the big dance a year later, topping the Wings.

Coin: ‘Hawks

/drops mic

Bishop: ‘Taller guys…can be just as athletic as the smaller guys’

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Seven

TAMPA — The tallest goalie in NHL history isn’t quite ready to call an end to the days of sub-six-foot netminders. However, he concedes there’s a reason smaller guys will have a tougher chance of making it.

“I don’t know if it’ll be the end of the era, but I think you see taller guys that can be just as athletic as the smaller guys,” said Tampa Bay’s 6-foot-7 starter, Ben Bishop. “It seems to be the way it’s trending here.

“You look at [Blackhawks backup Scott Darling], he’s 6-6, and that guy can move pretty well. You see bigger guys that can move just as well as the smaller guys, and that’s probably why teams have started going in that direction.”

Chicago’s starter, Corey Crawford, is no shrimp either, at 6-foot-2. In fact, of the four starters to reach the conference finals, Henrik Lundqvist was the shortest at a mere 6-foot-1. (Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen is listed at 6-foot-3.)

So, given the size of goalies today compared to the past, and given the drop in scoring compared to the past, what does Bishop think of the idea of making the nets bigger?

“Let’s make ‘em smaller,” he joked.

But then, more seriously: “I don’t know, I guess they could. It’s just going to lead more goals. A couple of games ago, we won 6-5. What do you want the scores to be? 12-10?”

Well, not all the time.

Related: Does Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history, mark ‘wave of the future’ in net?