In his morning skate presser this morning, head coach Jon Cooper laid out the adjustments his team needs to make for these two (I’ll say it) must-win games at home against Colorado.
1. Keep it simple, execute plays
One big reason the Lightning fell to those early deficits in Games 1 and 2 were because of defensive zone turnovers against a pressure forecheck. The Lightning didn’t make plays to get the puck out, the Avalanche caught them deep and out of position, and the result was multiple early goals against. Weathering the storms that Colorado is going to put on them and limiting mistakes to a minimum will be the key to pushing chances away from the front of the net and reducing rush chances.
2. No penalties
The Avalanche have the best power play in the playoffs, running at one goal every three opportunities. In a series where the Lightning don’t think they can win high-scoring games, not giving up freebies like that will be crucial. These penalties often come from not executing those plays mentioned above and cracking under pressure. I’ll also mention here that the Lightning power play needs to be better than its one goal every five attempts pace right now.
3. Don’t get too comfy
The Lightning are back home where they’ve won seven games and only lost once so far in these playoffs. In the past three years they’re 24-10. Cooper spoke about how home is a comfortable place for the Lightning where they get their own bed and home-cooked meals from their families. That, the familiarity of the routine, and the home crowd will all be important factors in getting the Lightning back on their terms. At the same time, Cooper also cautioned to not get too comfortable because playing at home isn’t a guaranteed win, they still need to go out and take it.
If tonight can be a 2-1 or 3-1 victory, the Lightning will be right back in the series and the recipe for beating the Avalanche will be in place. If the series continues to be high scoring, I don’t like the Lightning’s chances to out-scoring the Avalanche right now.
Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines
These lines will be updated closer to game time. The Lightning did not do line rushes during morning skate, instead focusing on special teams. These are the lines from the start of last game. Coach Cooper did mix them up a bit in a bid to produce offense.
Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel — Anthony Cirelli — Alex Killorn
Nick Paul — Ross Colton — Brayden Point
Patrick Maroon — Pierre-Edoauard Bellemare — Corey Perry
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — Zach Bogosian
Colorado Avalanche Potential Lines
Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Artturi Lehkonen — Valeri Nichushkin — Andre Burakovsky
Alex Newhook — JT Compher — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Jack Johnson — Josh Manson
Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson