The Tampa Bay Lightning have lost the first game of the series, and while many are quick to assume “the Islanders have figured out the Lightning since their last meeting,” the Bolts are far from cornered.
Here is the recap from Game 1, written by yours truly. [Raw Charge]
“The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped Game 1 at home to the New York Islanders by a score of 2-1. Brayden Point scored in the final minute of the game to make it close, but for much of the third period the Lightning weren’t very threatening. Mat Barzal scored the opening goal off a turnover, and Ryan Pulock beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with a point shot he’ll want back. Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 in the loss, while the Islanders goalie stopped 30 of 31.”
Do the Lightning have enough “grit” and “heart”? I’m far from concerned considering the team’s recent history. Are they fast enough? Yes. Are they diligent enough to not make mistakes? Well, not last night, but they have shown they can once given a kick in the butt.
This was that kick in the butt, and it sounds like the Lightning coaches and players have felt it. Here are some quotes from yesterday’s game, speaking to the abundance of poor decision making and lack of focus.
Cooper said no when asked if the Islanders style of play had the Lightning thinking too much in Game 1, especially coming off a different style of team in Carolina. "We need to make better decisions. That's it. And when we do that, I think our play will improve." #Bolts #NYIvsTBL— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) June 13, 2021
#TBLightning Jon Cooper: “Our work ethic was there. Our compete was there. Our minds weren't there. Some of our decisions were off."— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) June 13, 2021
Stamkos also put up his hand for the turnover he caused while trying to force a pass through the middle of the ice for the second goal. Andrei Vasilevskiy also let in a stinker, which could be considered the difference in a one-goal game, but there’s no good in blaming individuals for a team loss.
Steven Stamkos said “I need to be better” in situation where he turned puck over on #Isles first goal. Just get it deep. “It can be the difference in the game.”— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) June 13, 2021
Bryan Burns has the interviews and the story from the game, with Coach Cooper and the players all reiterating the same mistakes. [NHL dot com]
“We dropped a few last year in the playoffs as well, including in the final,” Stamkos said. “We’re fine in this position. It’s not ideal. They did what we’ve done to teams so far and get one on the road for them, so we’ve got to respond with another game at home in front of our fans and then we’ll take it from there.”
Joe Smith at The Athletic had a bit more of a concerned take about the Islanders.
Lightning say there's 'no panic' after Game 1 loss, but Islanders should have their attention. Our story after a sloppy performance by Cup champs https://t.co/PNsJXl0VuL— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) June 14, 2021
Depending on which model you look at, the Lightning either played poorly or it was close. Obviously the true answer is a combination. They made it close near the end and the chances were there, but they played from behind and didn’t get the goals, so they lost.
And to Wysh:
Lightning fans chanting "ref you suck!" with the unified voice of a team that lives and dies by its power play.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 13, 2021
Every fanbase does this, stop it. If you actually watched this power play every night you’ll be screaming for it, too. It’s amazing! Also, the league chooses to allow even-up calls, and swaying the refs is the reality. Having a terrible power play (like the Islanders) and still winning is not the “true test of merit.”