Monday’s game had a dose of playoff feel to it, expect more tonight.
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, FSCR
Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country
It was nice to see the Tampa Bay Lightning come out with a little energy to the game. Watching a two-goal lead evaporate throughout the night wasn’t as nice, but both teams are trying to win and Carolina is a pretty good team. That makes for a fun sixty minutes (or more) of hockey.
Alex Killorn had two points (and a fight) while Tyler Johnson had a nifty assist and Anthony Cirelli recorded his first point in eleven games. It’s too early to declare the offense fixed, but it’s good to see the Lightning pick up some goals from someone other than Ross Colton (two games without a goal, oh no!) and Yanni Gourde (who did score!).
After the game, when asked if there was a playoff feel to the game Killorn, who was wearing a 2020 Stanley Cup Final shirt, replied with,
“Yeah. The whole game there seemed to be some kind of pent-up energy.”
Now they have to be ready for the push back. Carolina didn’t quite match the Lightning’s intensity. As coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the game:
It’s funny. I don’t think we had the emotion at all. They might have treated it like a playoff game, but I don’t think we did. We didn’t play our game. It’s all about the little plays that we didn’t do tonight. We spent way too much time in our own end because of it. We need to up the ante a little bit if we want to get to a playoff level type game.
Part of the reason they didn’t play “their game” is because the Lightning executed their own game plan. They forechecked hard, kept the puck in the Carolina zone and didn’t allow the Canes to use their speed to get behind them. It’s a tough way to play as they have to be hyper-aware of where all of their opponents are at all times, but it can also be a bonus as it forces the Lightning to simplify their game and make the right play instead of trying a more complicated one that could lead to a turnover.
Now, they just have to do it again. That’s about as deep of an analysis as you need for the game.
Expect Carolina to come out with more injury and try to push the play into the Lightning end from the get go. There will also most likely be some carryover animosity from the Alex Killorn/Martin Necas collision from the game.
Necas to the locker room after this hit from Killorn pic.twitter.com/lLIz7YQ4BK
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 20, 2021
Look, there is no point in debating who is at “fault” in this play. Lightning fans will see it one way and Carolina fans will see it the other way. They will freeze frame the same screenshots as “proof” to their side of the argument. The Department of Player Safety will take a look at it and decide if it’s worth a call or not.
Still it’s understandable for Carolina to be a little miffed about, especially since Necas had already absorbed an elbow from Erik Cernak earlier in the game. Nothing like a questionable hit or two to ramp up the intensity between two teams who already have plenty to play for.
No word on if Curtis McElhinney will get the start or if Coach Cooper is willing to let Andrei Vasilevskiy go back-to-back. Alex Nedeljkovic will be in net for the Hurricanes. Expect the Lightning to roll out the same line-up (unless Coop wants to get Mitchell Stephens back on the ice) while Carolina may make a tweak or two.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Alex Barre-Boulet
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman
Patrick Maroon – Ross Colton – Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman – Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh – David Savard
Mikhail Sergachev – Luke Schenn
Curtis McElhinney (?)
Carolina Hurricanes Lines
Andrei Svechnikov – Sebastian Aho – Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook – Vincent Trocheck – Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter – Jordan Staal – Warren Foegele
Cedric Paquette – Steven Lorentz – Morgan Geekie
Jaccob Slavin – Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei – Brett Pesce
Jake Bean – Jani Hakanpaa