Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche: Game Five
Location: Ball Arena
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Broadcast/Streaming: ABC, CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN+
Opponent’s SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey
Just win, baby.
Nothing else matters at this point. Offside doesn’t matter. Too many men doesn’t matter. That’s all in the past. For tonight, it’s simple.
It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. The Lightning are now officially in “win or it’s over” mode. There is no room for error, so all they have to do it win. That’s all their focused on right now - winning Game Five.
They break that mantra down even further. It’s not just win the game, it’s win the first period. The Colorado Avalanche are going to come out hot. The crowd is going to be hot. The Stanley Cup is in the building and the Avs faithful want to see it on the ice. The best way to keep that from happening is to win the first period. Put the Avs on their heels and take the noise out of the building. The Bolts did it in the last two games and can do it again tonight.
Lets break it down even further. Just win the special teams battle. That’s a battle that they’ve been getting demolished in so far. Their penalty kill has allowed 6 goals on 13 chances while they’ve only been successful on 1 of their 14 chances. That has got to change tonight in order for them to move forward. The Avs have had way too much zone time with the extra skater, using their speed and quickness to disrupt the Lightning’s breakout attempts.
It would be great if the Lightning just stopped taking penalties, but that isn’t realistic. When they are shorthanded they have to be quick with the puck and the first thought in their mind has to be to clear the puck. Get it out of the zone and down the ice. Don’t try to make cute little passes in front of the net. Get it and get it out.
Having Erik Cernak back on the ice to help block shots would be nice. As of time of publication there was no update on the health of the big defenseman, or on any of the other banged-up Lightning players. Chances are, if they are capable of playing without exacerbating their injuries, they will be out there.
While their power play hasn’t been dynamite, they have had some chances. Natural Stat Trick has them at an expected 3.45 goals in their 14 chances. They have only generated 10 high-danger chances, though. They need to establish their presence in front of the net in order to generate some of those lucky bounces that they saw Colorado get in Game Four.
To refine it even more, the Lightning have to win the board battles and the loose puck battles. We’ve seen Colorado struggle when they’re forced to defend in their zone. They don’t like having to chase the opposition around in their own zone. If the Lightning can be the first to the puck, and use their size, they can and will win this game.
Just win, baby.
Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines
Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel — Anthony Cirelli (?) — Alex Killorn
Nick Paul — Ross Colton— Corey Perry
Patrick Maroon — Pierre-Edoauard Bellemare — Riley Nash
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak (?)
Mikhail Sergachev — Zach Bogosian
Colorado Avalanche Potential Lines
Arturri Lehkonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Nazem Kadri — Gabriel Landeskog — Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Newhook — JT Compher — Logon O’Connor
Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Nico Stum
Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Jack Johnson — Josh Manson
Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson