The stage is set, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be playing the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division finals, also known as the second round. The initial schedule had the Lightning hosting game 1 on Friday night, but that has been changed to Saturday at 3 PM to help balance the schedule across all four series’. [Tampa Bay Times]
It is the second-round series nearly everyone predicted when the playoff seedings were set. Ironically, the Lightning were thought to have the tougher first-round matchup, facing a Devils team that won all three meetings during the regular season. The Bruins were expected to roll past the Maple Leafs.
As we move forwards, let’s take a minute to look back and reflect on the series against the New Jersey Devils. [Raw Charge]
Kucherov may not win the Hart Trophy for MVP of the league, but he was without a doubt the Lightning’s best player in the first round. In the first couple of games the first line looked a bit shaky. This was due in part to Steven Stamkos trying to get his legs back under him after missing the last few games of the regular season.
“You can talk a lot about the other guys, but I’m telling you, Cobie, he was really important to us winning that series and played really well for us.”— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) April 25, 2018
Under-the-radar Braydon Coburn providing veteran leadership and much more to #Bolts D corps.https://t.co/ETAkchDpGI
During a recon mission (Google search), RC has obtained a secret (public) scouting report on the Lightning written by a Boston-area writer. They said our penalty kill is bad, shocker. [Mass Live]
Boston capitalized during its four regular-season meetings with the Lightning earlier this year, cashing in on three of its nine stints on the man advantage. Forcing Tampa to play with a man down might be what swings the series in favor of Boston over the next two weeks, but the Bruins have to make sure not to end up in the sin bin as well.
In the defensive zone, including on the penalty kill, the Lightning rely on blocking shots to help them defend, something the New York Rangers were famous of doing in the Ryan McDonagh Dan Girardi era. [Tampa Bay Times]
“Part of winning in the playoffs is sacrificing your body and blocking shots,” said Victor Hedman, who tied fellow defensemen Anton Stralman and Ryan McDonagh for a team-high seven during the first-round playoff series with the Devils.
”It’s a real morale booster when you see guys step up and block a shot,” said defenseman Dan Girardi, who led the Lightning with 155 blocked shots during the regular season.
The Syracuse Crunch have swept the Rochester Americans in their first round series! The Crunch gave themselves a brief scare early in the game but a 0-1 hole for one period was their only blemish across all three games. [Raw Charge]
It would take the Crunch all period (and a successful five on three penalty kill) to tie the game. With just 43 seconds left to go in the period Dominik Masin threw an innocent shot in the direction of the Rochester goal. Matt Peca redirected it and Linus Ullmark was not able to control the puck and it trickled in behind him. Mathieu Joseph picked up the other assist.
If you are new to the Crunch’s Calder Cup run, Allokago wrote a preview for game 3 that encompassed everything you need to know that happened and what things will look like going forward. [Raw Charge]
The Crunch hasn’t missed a chance to pour on the offense, scoring 12 goals over two playoff games. Rochester has been a bit behind that pace, scoring seven goals in the same span. However, five of those seven came this past Saturday, so it seems as though they’ve started clicking, too.
The Crunch’s potential opponents, the Toronto Marlies, lost their game 3 to the Utica Comets while also being up 2-0 in the series. Two Toronto losses on the same night, ouch. The Crunch will have at least two more days of rest than the Marlies who play game 4on Friday night or four more days if the Comets push it to five and/or win in five in Toronto on Sunday afternoon. [Pension Plan Puppets]
Now that the Maple Leafs are eliminated it allows certain players who were with the AHL team for the season but called up to the big club recently to return and join them in their playoff run. Specifically, Travis Dermott, Andreas Johnsson, and Kasperi Kapanen are all eligible to return.
Looping back to the first topic of the Quick Strike, the Boston Bruins have won the right to play the Lightning after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in game 7 at home. [Pension Plan Puppets]
The Leafs are giving all they have now. Remember this part of this game. They are giving it all.
It’s the future on the ice now. Dermott is out there. I hear a ping. Rask makes a save on Matthews, and the Bruins don’t get control.
One minute left, and the Bozak-Kadri crew can’t keep it in. Brad Marchand scores on the empty net.
TORONTO: AAAHHH— Steve Dangle Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) April 26, 2018
Ideally this would be the warmup for Game 1 and lines do seem to be in tune for that. Neither Malkin nor Hagelin were seen on the ice prior to the practice, indicating it’s probably a stretch to expect either to be playing tomorrow night in DC. There’s no official update from Mike Sullivan yet, he will speak after practice but expecting anything past what he has said — both players are day-to-day with injuries -- isn’t going to happen this time of year.
Coach Sullivan: “Malkin will make the trip with the team to Washington, Hagelin will not. Neither will play in Game 1."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 25, 2018
In non-playoff news, what’s Mats Zuccarello’s trade value, and since he’s a New York Ranger on his way out, when will he be coming to the Lightning? [Blueshirt Banter]
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, here are a few basic facts surrounding Mats Zuccarello. On September 1, Zuccarello turns 31 and will be in the final year of a four-year, $18 million contract signed on March 2, 2015. His cap hit is $4.5 million and there are no clauses on his contract according to Cap Friendly.
Highlight of the Night:
But for real it’s Kasperi Kapanen dummying Brad Marchand and ruining Tuukka Rask’s life.