Lightning have the home-ice advantage
The last time these two teams met, the New York Islanders were watching the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate an Eastern Conference Championship and a berth in the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals thanks to Big Goal Tony Cirelli:
Thanks to the quirky Covid-related division-only schedule the two teams haven’t met since. It’s going to be weird watching the Bolts play a team outside of the Central Division for the first time all season. It’s also strange that after two rounds as the road team, the Lightning have home-ice advantage for the
Conference Finals… Final Four... Round Three…Semifinals.
The schedule is as follows:
Game One: Sunday June 13th New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning, 3:00pm EST, NBC
Game Two: Tuesday June 15th New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning, 8:00pm EST, NBCSN
Game Three: Thursday June 17th Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders, 8:00pm EST, USA
Game Four: Saturday June 19th Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders, 8:00pm EST, USA
Game Five: Monday June 21st New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning, 8:00pm EST, NBCSN
Game Six: Wednesday June 23rd Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders, 8:00pm EST, NBCSN
Game Seven: Friday June 25th New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning, 8:00pm EST, NBCSN
There are no back-to-backs, extra days off, or other quirks to complain about. It is kind of odd that the NHL skipped starting either series on Saturday, sacrificing a prime-time game in order to make sure all four teams are rested and ready to go.
The other semifinal between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens will start on Monday the 14th and play on the days the Lightning and Islanders are off. Hockey every night for the next two weeks…just the way the gods intended.
Victor Hedman has the Norris nominations. Ryan McDonagh is the cagey veteran. Mikhail Sergachev is the up-and-comer with promise. Erik Cernak is the beast of the blueline. From Slovakia to Erie to Syracuse to Tampa, Cernak has played himself into a shutdown role for all of the teams.
Mari Faiello lists five players that fans may remember from last season (I feel Mathew Barzal is due for a big series). I submit to you a sixth name – Kyle Palmieri. The veteran, trade deadline pick-up has 9 points (7 goals, 2 assists) in 12 playoff games this year. He might add some depth that New York was missing the last time these teams met.
“Lost to a team that was $18 million over the cap” is all anyone will remember from the pending free agent’s exit interview. What isn’t in the headlines is that Hamilton also said that he had no problem with what the Lightning did (neither did the NHL), but was praising the talent the Lightning put on the ice.
Lightning Recharge: Turf War
Bolts TV provides a recap of the first round series against the Panthers with behind-the-scenes footage and highlights.
The Blue Jackets stayed in-house to replace John Tortorella as the head coach of the team. Larsen has been an assistant coach with the team for the last seven seasons.
Jack Eichel won’t see the end of his contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The only question is when they’ll pull the trigger on trading the captain. The perpetual rebuild begins again.
There are no real surprises here. Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, and Connor McDavid are the finalists for the league’s most valuable player award. They are also three players who are no longer playing hockey as their teams have been eliminated. Good thing it’s a regular season award, right?
Last Night’s Game
Vegas wins series 4-2
For the third time in as many seasons, the Avalanche have been eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. Really hope they’re not wasting the prime years of Nathan MacKinnon. Marc-Andre Fleury won his 89th career postseason game not by making a lot of saves, but by making key ones. He was helped out by the players in front of him blocking 14 shots.
Vegas will host Montreal starting on Monday. I’m going to guess that the Golden Knights will be the heavy favorites, but that might not matter to the Habs who have been underdogs throughout the playoffs.