5 Things We Learned: Islanders vs. Lightning

Story posted September 19, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Jacob Cheris

The Tampa Bay Lightning have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final to face off against the Dallas Stars. The Lightning defeated the New York Islanders in six games after Anthony Cirelli scored the game-winning goal with 6:42 remaining in the first overtime of the sixth game. This series was filled with structure, heavy hits and three thrilling overtime periods. Here are five things that we learned from this series.

1. The Islanders fold under pressure

The Islanders were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes last year in the second round. The Hurricanes play an aggressive style of hockey that involves at least two forwards on the puck carrier. The Lightning play the same style, and this caused multiple Islanders turnovers and quality opportunities for the Lightning. It is hard for teams to break this style because the defense does not know what to expect from the opposing forecheckers.

2. No lead is safe

The Islanders let go of multiple leads in this series. They scored first in the last five games in this series, only to let the lead go with a quick response from Tampa Bay. The worst was in Game 3. The Islanders were up 3-1 going into the third period, but the Lightning scored two unanswered goals to tie the game. In the past, the Islanders were good at holding close leads and suffocating the opposition. But Tampa Bay’s offensive firepower overwhelmed the Islanders.

3. This is a different Tampa Bay team than 2019

What’s different about this year’s Lightning compared to last year's 62-win team is that they are getting more production throughout the lineup. Players such as Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn and Kevin Shattenkirk have produced at a high level. Furthermore, Jon Cooper’s team is more physical. During the offseason and before the trade deadline, the Lightning added Pat Maroon, a Stanley Cup champion last year with the St. Louis Blues, and Barclay Goodrow. As most of the hockey world knows, Tampa Bay was swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets last year. Many fans wondered if Tampa Bay was ever going to win a Cup after that shocking sweep last season. Tampa Bay has clearly forgotten about the past.

4. Brayden Point is officially Tampa’s number one center

With Steven Stamkos out for the remainder of the playoffs, Brayden Point was the next guy up. He has been phenomenal in these playoffs. He is second in the league in points (25) and if Tampa Bay wins the Stanley Cup, Point is the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs MVP. However, health was an issue for him in this series. Point was injured in Game 2 after taking an awkward fall on the boards, so Cirelli centered the first line with Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. The two games that the Lightning have lost were without Point. He did play in Game 4, scoring a goal, but did not play in Game 5. Point played in the series-clinching Game 6 and will likely play in the first game against Dallas.

5. Stay out of the box or Tampa Bay will make you pay

Tampa Bay’s power play dominated this series. The Lightning have so many weapons up front and on the back end. Victor Hedman, a Norris finalist, and Mikhail Sergachev are the quarterbacks for this unit. Palat and Kucherov are the snipers at each faceoff circle. Kucherov has yet to score a power play goal, but Palat has two in the postseason. Tampa Bay's power play was 4-of-21(19.1%) in this series. Overall, Tampa’s power play is 10-of-56 (17.9%). It’s going to be interesting to see a strong Tampa Bay power play against a strong Dallas penalty kill (83.3%).

 

Jacob Cheris is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jacobcheris19@gmail.com.