Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview and Game Day Thread: No Hindsight Now
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcasting / Streaming: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, peacock
SNOpponent SB Nation website: HabsEyesOnThePrize
Throughout the playoff race, the Tampa Bay Lightning struggled the most when it came to it. Turnovers, shoddy coverage and bad penalties allowed other teams to stay and win games they didn’t have to win. They need to avoid falling back into those bad habits tonight if they are to head north with a 2-0 lead in the series.
While the final score of the first game indicated that the Lightning had dominated most of the night, it was only a one-goal game after two periods and there were times early in the game where the Bolts were having trouble clearing the puck. Montreal did a good job anticipating their assists and stepped up their efforts to eliminate them in the zone.
We have to thank the Lightning for recovering quite well when he returned the puck. They did a very good job limiting the main chances for the Habs with just four attempts to shoot just in front of their goalkeeper.
It also helps that their goalkeeper is Andrei Vasilevskiy. While the ultra-dangerous odds were kept to a minimum, he still had to make a few key saves in the first two periods in order to keep things close. The Lightning’s talent took the game out in the third, and Nikita Kucherov’s two minutes to reestablish the two-goal lead was the turning point, but without Vasy’s play in the first two periods there would be little. -be had a different result.
Faced with the possibility of losing two games, expect Montreal to make an even more aggressive forward check in an attempt to disrupt the Lightning’s transition play. After their loss in Game 1 to the Vegas Golden Knights in the last round, the Canadiens came out and completely shut down the Vegas offense in the first period, allowing just 13 attempts and 4 shots on goal. They outscored the Golden Knights 8-1 in high-risk areas and built themselves a 2-0 lead.
Their first goal was the result of a fairly good forward check with Joel Armia causing a turnaround behind the net with a strong body checking on Alec Martinez:
If the Bolts make quick decisions and move the puck cleanly in their own area, they can take the pressure off. It will be essential for their forwards to make sure they don’t fly over the area too quickly and to offer support to defenders trying to get rid of the puck.
A quick puck movement will allow the Lightning to move through the neutral zone and use their speed against Montreal’s slightly less mobile defense. Coach Cooper loves to preach that taking care of the puck in your own zone will lead to chances in the opponent’s zone. If the Lightning commits to this process, it will be difficult for Montreal to follow them.
For the first time in the playoffs, there will be some reshuffle among the Lightning’s offensive lines. Alex Killorn did not return to the game after blocking a shot in the third period and is “hand in hand” according to the head coach. On Wednesday morning, Coach Cooper confirmed he would be out of the roster for Game 2. Killorn plays a big role on the front failure and the first power play unit so his loss will be felt. It will be necessary to wait until the end of the match to see if Mathieu Joseph, GemelSmith or Mitchell Stephens will line up. So no need to go jostle in your betting apps to make last minute changes for now.
Coach Cooper could also choose to bring Luke Schenn back into the rotation and go 11/7, but that could be risky with Kucherov still not 100% and the Canadiens targeting him with extra shots in the mid section. Plus, it would be an option that would be more efficient on the road when he needs to mix things up without having the last change.
On the other side, expect Joel Armia to return to their fourth row and, more importantly, their penalty kill. His ability to control the puck and make responsible plays could help them defensively.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines and Pairings
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
(?) – Anthony Cirelli – Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon – Tyler Johnson – Ross Colton
Victor Hedman – Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev – David Savard
Andrei Vasilevskiy – starter
Lines and pairs of the Montreal Canadiens
Artturi Lehkonen – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield
Paul Byron – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Josh Anderson
Joel Armia (?) – Eric Staal – Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber
Joël Edmundson – Jeff Petry
Erik Gustafsson – Jon Merrill