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Lightning Round: A city so nice, we’ll have to beat it twice

Or an island off the coast of...what I can only assume is Brooklyn?

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders - Game Six
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 17: Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal past Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders during the first overtime period to win Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on September 17, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Islanders have beat the Boston Bruins in six games and are moving on to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 2020 Conference Finals rematch. These teams are mostly the same compared to the ones where the Lightning beat the Islanders in six games, although both teams have brought in their own rentals. [Lighthouse Hockey]

“A series of opportunistic goals helped the Isles take control in the second period and enter the third with a three-goal lead. Though they gave up a power play goal to bring the Bruins within two, the Islanders locked it down and, befitting a Coliseum party, picked up two late empty net goals to blow the roof off once more.”

Fans were chanting “We want Tampa” as the Islanders were up 6-2 in their game against Boston. This was a series where the Bruins weren’t good enough defensively and did not block out the front of the net, while the offense struggled to achieve the quality of chances they needed despite a significant lead in the quantity of shots. The Islanders goaltending duo was also really good, stopping shots at a rate of .923 while Tuukka Rask at the other end only managed a .872.

Looking ahead at the Lightning, the Islanders are not the better team and the areas they exploited to beat the Bruins don’t exist against the Lightning. The Bolts have been getting incredible goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy, and their offense is firing on all cylinders at 5v5 and on the power play. Vasy hasn’t exactly been giving up “opportunistic goals” on the regular.

Plus, the Bruins defense is not what it used to be without Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug, this was always going to be an area of worry for the team and it turned out that was true.

In the bubble, the Lightning scored 20 goals to the Islanders 12. A lot of that margin came in the Game 1 blowout, but the Lightning showed that they were able to win close games when they needed to. And even more importantly, the Lightning gave up the lead in three of their four wins in the series, proving that the Islanders aren’t a team that can just take a 1-0 lead and sit back for 50 minutes.

The Lightning can score, and they can reliably break through a collapsed defense. They don’t even need the power play to push them over the top in those games. The Lightning scored four power play goals in last year’s series, and three of them came in the 8-2 Game 1 blowout and the other came in the loss. All of Tampa’s comebacks were at even strength. That’s pretty incredible.

Lightning Links

Buried in the middle of this article, but Victor Hedman has been nominated for a Norris Trophy for best defenseman in the NHL, again. A lot of people have jumped on Hedman for essentially being a “legacy pick.” He doesn’t have to win it, but he very much still deserves to be nominated. People are very uppity about Adam Fox because he has great numbers with Artemi Panarin.

This is Hedman’s fourth Norris nomination, he’s come third three times and won the award in 2018. He also has a Conn Smythe, in case that’s relevant ;).

Shockingly, Ondrej Palat won’t face supplemental discipline for his high hit on Brett Pesce.

Nine years ago to the day, the 2012 Norfolk Admirals won the Calder Cup with head coach Jon Cooper and several of his players who ended up going on and winning a Stanley Cup with him. Here’s the full playoff roster if you want to click around for half an hour.

ESPN have hired Kevin Weekes from NBC to join their NHL coverage next season, they’ve also brought in PK Subban for the summer. Subban still has a year left on his contract with New Jersey, but it probably won’t come as a shock to anyone if he makes the natural step to broadcast television. He’s really entertaining, and we like that kind of thing over here, Montreal.