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Lightning Round: Cone of uncertainty edition

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I love going to the ECF no matter whomst we play against.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome to Wednesday. Yesterday was all about seeing whether the Tampa Bay Lightning would know their dance partner, but because of circumstances (Flyers) beyond their control, the future is still unclear. The Bolts’ news media were mostly still chewing over the second round, so I thought I’d pick out some of the best and most joyful takes for you.

Might as well use this small break to wallow in the joy of beating the Bruins, and get hyped for the Eastern Conference Final!

Hype and Recaps

Do you guys believe this media theory, that “tough, gritty” players are what has kept the Bolts in the playoffs so far?

Lightning reach East finals for 4th time in 6 years [Associated Press]

Maroon, Shattenkirk, Coleman, Goodrow and Bogosian have made the Lightning much tougher to play against than a year ago, when they won the President’s Trophy only to be swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs.

“Anybody who’s been part of playoffs (knows) the game is a grind. You need those type of guys who can do that, and we found them,” Cooper added. “It’s clearly really helped us.”

Mishkin calls Victor Hedman’s game winning goal:

These “President’s Trophy winning team totally loses” takes feel so painfully relevant to us, don’t they? This year, I’m glad it’s not us. Amalie Benjamin’s recap for [NHL.com]

Despite finishing with the best points percentage in the NHL (.714) during the regular season and going 16-4-0 in its final 20 games before the season was paused March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the Bruins fell to the No. 4 seed in the East after going winless in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

I think I hugged my cat as hard as Cooper hugged that assistant coach:

Hardev wrote up his Morning After Thoughts: how the Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the Boston Bruins [Raw Charge]

And while I want to give Hedman a lot of (much deserved) credit, he had a defense group around him that kept some of the responsibility off his shoulders, something a lot of other teams don’t have. The Lightning ran 11F/7D for part of the playoffs, and while I’m not sure they used it to great effect, the players they did run played important roles in all areas of the ice meaning Hedman didn’t have to be everywhere all at once.

Yes/Yes:

3 reasons why the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins [Puck Prose]

Sure, this seems like a cheap reason. Usually, the team that gets the better goaltending wins in the postseason. But Andrei Vasilevskiy was exceptional against the Bruins. He flat out stole Game 5 for the Lightning, as he stopped 45 of the 47 shots on goal he faced. For the series, Vasilevskiy had a save percentage of .936%, only allowing 10 goals despite seeing over 150 shots on goal.

It appears the hiatus due to the pandemic was a good thing for Vasilevskiy. He got rested and came into the Stanley Cup Playoffs ready to carry the Lightning. Vasilevskiy’s one of the most gifted goalies in the league and he showed it against the Boston Bruins. It’s easy to overlook what he does because Tampa has so many stars, but he’s vital to their success.

I could reread the phrase “beat the Boston Bruins” a hundred times a day, just like this guy:

Mishkin’s Extra Shift: Lightning 3, Bruins 2 - 2OT [Tampa Bay Lightning]

One area in which the Lightning excelled was in the faceoff circle. They had won more than 50% of faceoffs in just one of the first four games, but they dominated the dot in Game Five. They won 56 and lost 38. In particular, Barclay Goodrow had a monster game on draws. He went 20-9 overall. Even more impressively, in head-to-head faceoffs against Patrice Bergeron, Goodrow went 17-5. Many of these Lightning faceoff wins came in the defensive zone. The Lightning’s excellence on faceoffs did help offset some of the Bruins’ possession advantage.

And to this guy, you’re welcome:

Lightning win in double overtime to send Bruins home [TSN.ca]

“We needed every ounce of our energy,” Cooper said. “Tongues were dragging ... it was tough.”

But his players found another level in the second extra period, and now are off to the Eastern Conference final for the fourth time in six years.

Victor Hedman’s shot at 14:10 of double overtime went in through a crowd as the Lightning defeated the Bruins 3-2 on Monday to win their second-round series 4-1.

“How they managed to play that second overtime, I don’t know,” said Cooper, whose team allowed just one shot against after the intermission. “It was a pretty committed effort by the guys.

Handshakes.

Last night’s games

Both the Flyers and Canucks survived another night in the bubble with Game 5 wins for themselves. Game 6 both both teams is on Thursday.

Philadelphia Flyers 4, New York Islanders 3 (OT) — NYI leads 3-2
The Flyers got out to a good start and scored themselves to a 3-1 lead thanks to goals from Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, and Matt Niskanen, but the Islanders came back in the third and it took an overtime goal from Scott Laughton to end the game. [Recap]

“It’s been an up and down series for Laughton, but he had a strong game tonight, and it really felt like he deserved to pick up the winning goal. With Couturier missing the third and overtime periods, Laughton jumped up to take many of what would have been his shifts, and he did well in those matchups. He was asked to rise to the occasion in this one, and boy did he ever do that.”

Vancouver Canucks 2, Vegas Golden Knights 1 — VGK leads 3-2
Thatcher Demkos had himself a pretty good playoff debut, stopping 42 of 43 shots against arguably the best team in the Western Conference and getting his team the win to survive another night in the playoffs. The Canucks got massively out-played in this game, Vegas out-shot them 43-17. Vancouver had single-digit shots in all three periods, including a period low of four in the second frame. Shea Theodore opened the scoring for Vegas, but goals from Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson were enough to win the game. [Recap]

“Vegas outshot Vancouver 34-13 at 5-on-5 and 44-17 across all strengths. The Knights controlled the puck and ensured Vancouver’s chances were few and far between. It still wasn’t enough, however, and that was because of Demko.“

Cool moments at the start of the Canucks’ game:

Tonight’s game

Colorado Avalanche “@” Dallas Stars — DAL leads 3-2
8pm ET — NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS
The Dallas Stars look to close out the Colorado Avalanche tonight, although the series looks like it’s going to seven. Dallas leads 3-2, but not because of Ben Bishop, sadly.

Examining The Dallas Stars’ New Goaltending Conundrum [Defending Big D]

After missing the past eight games due to being “unfit to play,” Bishop made a surprise start in net last night against the Colorado Avalanche. Although after the game Bishop said he “felt great”, his play was clearly not up to his usually high standard — his return to the crease ended very badly, with Bishop allowing four goals on 19 shots against before getting yanked.

During those 14 minutes, Bishop looked okay — healthy enough to play, at least. You would think he was horrible looking at his statistics, but that wouldn’t do him justice. Especially when you consider that the Stars absolutely abandoned him for those first 14 minutes, in which they were outshot 19-3.

Colorado Avalanche send a message, force game 6 with 6-3 win over Stars [Mile High Hockey]

If the Avalanche wants to have a realistic chance at mounting a comeback in this second-round series, it will require stout goaltending and disciplined play. Michael Hutchinson was solid in net, and Colorado looked very disciplined to start the contest but unraveled in the second with two unsportsmanlike penalties.

Dallas will activate if they can coerce the Avalanche into an emotional response. Best for Colorado to skate away after the whistle. That can be tough when the Stars forwards always pressure the net after the whistle.