It’s understandable that hockey players and coaches sometimes choose to sound like drones, especially this time of year, spouting phrases like “one game at a time.”
Maybe Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is preaching such a day-by-day approach to his team, but he’s not acting like Game 6 against the New York Rangers – with a chance to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final – is just your run-of-the-mill contest. He acknowledged how big tonight’s contest is, as NHL.com reports.
“I don’t think you can treat this like any other game,” Cooper said. “There are only four teams left, and we put ourselves in a position to advance. Now we have to raise the bar a little bit higher; we know the Rangers are going to, so we have to match that. But I think our confidence level is where we know we can do that.”
Tampa Bay avoided what could have been an arduous Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens by playing what seemed like picture-perfect defense. Steven Stamkos believed that he saw glimpses of that shutdown mentality from the Bolts in Game 5.
There’s plenty of incentive for Tampa Bay to win tonight, beyond the most obvious goal of advancing.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are really engaging in a physical, emotional series. It’s plausible – though obviously not guaranteed – that those two teams could go the distance. If the Bolts could win tonight, they’d get a little extra rest.
More than that, few teams probably want to contend with Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in a Game 7 situation, especially considering how dominant they’ve been in those scenarios at Madison Square Garden.
All things considered, it’s easy to see why Cooper is preaching urgency.
Conversely, which factors should Alain Vigneault be stressing? The video below breaks down what the Rangers need to do to be successful.
Related: Lightning hope to avoid a “letdown.”