I don’t really know what to say. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I was out of town for game two and had to watch from afar. It was no less enjoyable being away from the arena as it would have been watching the Washington Capitals dominate the Tampa Bay Lightning in person. The Lightning had nothing at even strength with both goals they scored in game two coming on the man advantage. Actually, they only have one goal at even strength through two games and that came when game one was already well out of hand.
Blend the lines
I don’t know what else to do to shake up the team. Jon Cooper could go to 11 forwards and seven defensemen to shake things up. He could maybe bench one of the top nine and bring in someone like Cory Conacher or Matthew Peca to provide a spark. One thing I’ll say is that Cooper shouldn’t touch the fourth line. They’ve been the Lightning’s best line and it’s really not even close. They can’t score, but at least they play good possession hockey and play hard. None of them deserve to be taken out of the Lightning.
With that said though, I find it hard to see Cooper taking any of the Lightning top eight forwards out of the line-up either. Anthony Cirelli would be the one player that I could see getting a game in the press box though. He looked to be handling playoff hockey in the first two rounds, but hasn’t been as much of a factor through two games against the Capitals. On the backside, Mikhail Sergachev has looked fine. He’s been on for a couple of goals against, but possession wise, him and Braydon Coburn have done the best on the Lightning’s blueline.
The easiest shake up though would be to put the top nine into a blender and pick out names. So, that’s what I’ll do here and take a stab at trying some different line combinations along with swapping out Cirelli for Conacher to give the line-up a little shake up.
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
J.T. Miller - Tyler Johnson - Cory Conacher
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose being down two games to none and going into hostile territory trying to get a couple wins. Mix it all up. Put everyone with some new linemates and let them go. Maybe something will work. Maybe nothing will work. Maybe the Lightning are just being outcoached by Barry Trotz.
I Don’t Know
I really don’t know what else to say here. The Lightning are getting outplayed. They’re being kept to the outside. The Capitals are getting to the middle. Braden Holtby is playing better than Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning need to dig deep and just play better. Simple as that. Top to bottom. Everyone has to play better.