Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning: ROUND 4, GAME 1
Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Rogers Place
Broadcast/Streaming: NBC, SN, TVA-S, CBC
Opponent SBNation Site: Defending Big D
Well, we made it. The Lightning only had 45 hours between the end of Game 6 and the start of Game 1 to rest and reset. They paid a heavy toll in their series against the New York Islanders. Multiple players were shaken up on plays, left games early, and missed games during the series. We’re about to find out if this team can flip the switch and still come out with a bang against a well-rested Stars team.
The Lightning lost both of their meetings against the Stars in the regular season in overtime. In one of those losses, only Steven Stamkos managed to get on the score sheet for the Bolts. With his status still unclear (though doubtful for tonight), it’s imperative that the Lightning find a way to kick-start their secondary scoring. Anthony Cirelli’s OT winner in Game 6 was a good beginning, but the second and third lines need to start helping out the top line and Victor Hedman offensively.
If the Islanders were a better version of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Stars are a better version of the Isles — just as solid, if not more, defensively, with better offensive catalysts. The Lightning were probably at their best defensively against the Isles in Game 6, and they’re going to need to carry that over against Dallas. A lot of the Stars’ offense is created from the back end through defenders like Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and John Klingberg, but depth players like Denis Gurianov and Joel Kiviranta can burn the Lightning as well.
The Stanley Cup Final will likely showcase another Russian goalie duel — Anton Khudobin was fantastic in the Western Conference Final against Vegas. Though he had his shaky moments, Andrei Vasilevskiy found ways to shut the door when it mattered for the Lightning, and he’s going to need to match or better Khudobin in goal.
As far as other story lines go, how will Jon Cooper fare against his former associate coach and mentor Rick Bowness? Could the Lightning get Steven Stamkos back before this series ends? How much will fatigue play a factor tonight, given that the Lightning’s last two games went to overtime and multiple players are battling injuries?
Buckle up, Bolts fans. We’re about to find out — and hopefully this series goes better for the Lightning than 2015 did.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Cedric Paquette - Patrick Maroon
Alexander Volkov, Mathieu Joseph, Carter Verhaeghe, Mitchell Stephens
Injured: Steven Stamkos
Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk
Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn
Injured: Jan Rutta
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark – Joe Pavelski – Denis Gurianov
Andrew Cogliano – Jason Dickinson – Blake Comeau
Joel Kiviranta – Justin Dowling – Corey Perry
Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak – Miro Heiskanen
Joel Hanley – Andrej Sekera