Last night’s Game 2 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins in Amalie Arena sure felt like a playoff game, and was edge-of-the-seat entertainment. At the same time, I found the referees pretty frustrating — and I understand that Boston fans are also just as frustrated with the referees so I’m not going to get too much into them.
It was also frustrating to watch this team dominate at even strength again, but still struggle to beat Rask. Until Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat took it to him Triplets style.
The Lightning played great possession hockey in Game 1 and just weren’t rewarded for it. The handful of scoring chances that the Bruins had, they converted on. The Lightning, it seemed, just couldn’t buy a goal. So it was great to see their work rewarded in Game 2. The Lightning still had their rough patches, though. They got the first ten shots on goal of the game culminating in Yanni Gourde’s power play goal to go up 1-0. Then the Bruins got the next eight shots on goal, aided by a five-on-three power play.
It was fantastic to see that group bounce back after a very rough game one. Only Brayden Point ended up with a sub-50% CF% with Palat and Johnson finishing at 57% and 56.5% respectively. They were the “worst” line for the Lightning. But you also have to put that into context, because they’ve been asked to play against the best possession line in the NHL.
The only member of the line out for a goal against was Brayden Point. He had just come off the bench for Steven Stamkos when Charlie McAvoy scored the first goal of the game and he didn’t have enough time to get into the play to make a difference. The Bergeron line’s other goal in the third period came against the Anthony Cirelli line.
It will be interesting to see what happens with this line in Boston. The Bruins do not want them going up against the Bergeron line (which I believe will be sent out against the Stamkos line). But all that is going to do is free up the Point line to play against much lesser competition. Tyler Johnson had a beast of a game in Game 2 and if he and Ondrej Palat can keep that up “Triplets style” with Cousin Brayden in the center, it’s going to put all the more pressure on the Bruins’ top line to outdo them. And maybe even forces Boston to put the Bergeron line back with the Point line just to try and slow them down.
The Stamkos line failed to pick up any points in Game 2. They only totaled five shots on goal and eight shot attempts between the three of them all game. Their possession numbers weren’t too bad, they didn’t give up a lot of shots. But they just also didn’t generate very many shots. Anthony Cirelli had almost three and a half minutes less time on ice at even strength than Stamkos. And yet, the Lightning picked up one more shot attempt while Cirelli was on the ice.
With the series moving to Boston, the Stamkos line could be in trouble. Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov’s underlying possession numbers have not been great for a lot of this season, but during the regular season their natural offensive talent and shooting skills carried them to great success. It’s very likely that the Bruins will be targeting them with the Bergeron line. It’s what the New Jersey Devils did with the Taylor Hall line when the series shifted to New Jersey. I’m pretty much expecting that to happen with the Bruins too.
What can I say about Callahan? He ended up picking up the third star of the night. He did so while playing 14:11 TOI. He was a plus-one, had one shot on goal, two shot attempts, three hits, a takeaway and two blocked shots. He also was 100% at faceoffs going 1-0. So how did he get that third star? Let’s let the videos do the talking.