Five games into the Eastern Conference Finals and we have a 3-2 series lead for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Really they are just separated by a singular smacking in game one, but otherwise the series has been incredibly tight throughout. Interestingly game five saw a very low shot total despite the game going to double overtime. In the end the Islanders eked out a 2-1 victory despite averaging just 6 shots a period.
Heading into game six, I am once again on the Tampa over 2.5. Can take that one down to 63/64%. It is based on the best offensive team in the league against a slightly overvalued backend from the Islanders. The news heading into game five was that Brayden Point would be sidelined. Even for all Tampa’s depth it does not go unnoticed.
As of this evening there was no answer on whether he would be back in a lineup that is already missing its captain, Steven Stamkos. However this is the exact reason they have been accruing some of the most talented and experienced skaters heading into this 19/20 season.
I am really not concerned for the Bolts. If the Isles are able to comeback and win, it won’t be because Stamkos and Point were out of the lineup though they are undoubtedly an asset to any roster.
Last night’s double-overtime winning goal was scored off a bad turnover in the offensive zone by an experienced defender resulting in a 2-on-1 break down the other end. Was not wrong of the one D-man back to go for the puck carrier however he needed to either commit sooner ensuring a good pass could not be made or just allowed his goalie to have the shot and tie up the other winger.
Just goes to show that there is sometimes just one mistake separating teams of this calibre. Both teams certainly had chances to end it sooner and I am happy to get involved in the likelihood of a few more finding the back of the net.
Again to reiterate however this is the way the Islanders need to play to win. They have to be outchanced and outshot. A run and gun style will prove to be detrimental where the opposition holds a far better array of weapons across their four lines.
The big news for New York into game five was getting Johnny Boychuk back into the lineup. He is a veteran and leader on and off the ice. Despite playing reduced minutes his presence, perhaps to keep the morale high, was commented on by a few of the players. The Stars, whom have played a game six and game seven before taking down the Knights in five, are all too happy to see this series go extra games.
Even for a shortened playoff season, where everyone came in fresh, the pace and physicality has certainly come to impact every team. With Dallas having a good plethora of, let’s call them ‘aging’, players, the extra days rest even for the healthy skaters will help considerably against either opponent they face in the Cup finals.