Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN
Opponent SBNation Site: Lighthouse Hockey
Throughout the first four games of this semifinal series, both sides have rolled out the same starting rosters in each game. The same players, the same lines, and the same goaltenders. There has been some slight tinkering throughout the games with combinations either due to players getting banged up or the coaches trying to shake things up. For instance, Barry Trotz moved Kyle Palmieri up to the Mat Barzal line in Game Four and it paid off with a goal.
Could tonight be the night that Coach Cooper shakes things up and goes to his old reliable 11/7 line-up? It’s a ploy he’s done repeatedly throughout the last few postseasons in an effort to free up some of his superstars by double-shifting them on the makeshift fourth line.
While the top line has been doing just fine, not great, but fine during this series, getting Brayden Point or Nikita Kucherov on the ice for an extra shift or two every period is a positive for Coach Cooper. With the last change he can pick spots where those players may have a slightly more favorable match-up and a little more open ice. That could boost an offense that has only scored more than two goals once in this series. It could also lead to more power plays as an overmatched Islanders line might be forced into taking a penalty to keep Kucherov or Point from scampering around in the offensive zone.
If he was to do so, Luke Schenn is the most likely the defenseman to be added to the line-up. Erik Cernak has been a little beaten-up the last couple of games, missing time in Game Four after a big hit from Matt Martin sent him to the locker room for a few minutes. While all indications are that he is good to go for tonight’s game inserting Schenn into the rotation could help ease the minutes if Cernak is a little more banged up than the team is letting on.
Part of the fun if long series is the gamesmenship between the coaching staffs. One side will make an in-game adjustment that works and the other side will counter. When that stops working another adjustment is made and so on and so on.
Whatever combination Coach Cooper sends out onto the ice, the main mission should be the same - create havoc in front of Semyon Varlamov. While they did a decent job of getting shots on net in Game Four, there wasn’t a lot of traffic in front of the netminder and he was able to easily see the puck and stop it or swat it out of danger. Maintaining a presence in front of him to deflect pucks or jam home rebounds will be the way the Bolts pull off the win.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon - Tyler Johnson - Ross Colton
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - David Savard
New York Islanders Lines
Leo Komarov - Mat Barzal - Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey
Kyle Palmieri - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Travis Zajac
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech - Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy - Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene - Noah Dobson