Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Capital One Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: NBCSN (link to stream), TVA Sports
Opponent SBNation Site: Japer’s Rink
We have now been informed which team will represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final: the Vegas Golden Knights, who have made history with their game five and series win over the Winnipeg Jets. Congratulations to the Golden Knights on making it there. One thing of note from the game was that de facto captain Deryk Engelland touched the Clarence S. Campbell bowl, which is the Western Conference Championship trophy.
Touching the conference championship trophy is something that is often debated hotly by fans. Many believe that it is unlucky to touch the trophy since it is not the real end goal. During the television broadcast, you could even hear a Jets fan yell “YOU JUST CURSED IT” at Engelland.
In 2014-15, Steven Stamkos did not touch the Prince of Wales Trophy, the Eastern Conference version of the Campbell. The Lightning went on to lose in the Stanley Cup Final. Sidney Crosby didn’t touch the Price of Wales Trophy in 2008 and the Pittsburgh Penguins lost in the Stanley Cup Final. The following year in 2009, Crosby lifted the Prince of Wales and they went on to win. He did the same thing prior to their Stanley Cup Championships in 2016 and 2017. I should also note that Marc-Andre Fleury being with Crosby in those four seasons may have influenced Engelland to pick up the Campbell.
Anyway, back to game six. The Lightning travel to Washington with a 3-2 series lead. What a return the team made after falling 0-2 with two losses on home ice to open the series. Each win has been a bit different, too. Game three was a fairly dominating performance with the top line being the stars in the game. Game four was stolen by Andrei Vasilevskiy stonewalling the Capitals and getting just enough offense from his teammates, including the game-winning goal by Alex Killorn that broke his ten game goalless drought. And game five was led by the fourth line with Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan scoring on the first shift of the first and second periods.
Who will step up tonight? Maybe it will be the Capitals. Hopefully it will be the Lightning. It feels like a bit of fatigue has crept into the Capitals’ game. Before the series, I noted that the Capitals had played two more games than the Lightning. With their sometimes long overtimes early in the playoffs, the Capitals top players played the equivalent of three or four more games. Alex Ovechkin has also been logging big minutes in this series. You have to wonder if all that extra time on the ice is starting to wear the Capitals down. It makes those five-game series in the first two rounds for the Lightning look all the better.
I expect that the Capitals will open up with jump to begin the game. For the Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy, it will be about weathering that storm before settling into the game. One way to intercept that jump would be to have a repeat of game four and pick up a quick goal in the first few shifts. At this point, the Capitals’ fans are sweating and fearing that they are looking at another playoff collapse by their team. Score a quick one and you have the potential to take the crowd out of the game.
The Lightning have an opportunity to close it out tonight. With the Vegas Golden Knights having closed their series out last night, if the Lightning are going to the Finals, it would be nice for them to not give Vegas extra rest by going to seven games. By finishing it out tonight, the Lightning will have played only one extra game and will have finished their series one day after. If the Lightning get into the Finals, controlling that little bit of advantage could be the difference against an odds defying team.
Let’s take care of business tonight and guarantee this season will continue.
LET’S! GO! BOLTS!
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Lineup notes: [Pending morning skate]
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Mikhail Sergachev
Ovechkin - Kuznetsov - Wilson
Vrana - Backstrom - Oshie
Burakovsky - Eller - Connolly
Stephenson - Beagle - Smith-Pelly
Kempny - Carlson
Orlov - Niskanen
Orpik - Djoos