It’s just three games, right? Had this happened in November or February would it would garner a little fanfare (wins are fun, right?) but not too much would be made of it. However, now that it’s the end of the season and the playoffs are only a couple of weeks away there seems to be a bit more importance placed, not only on the wins, but how the Lightning are winning.
“Two goals against, zero goals against, one goal against.” That’s how Coach Cooper answered the question of what he liked most about the last three games the Lightning played. After a long season of up and down defensive performances, the team has started to show it’s goal-preventing prowess.
This is how you win games when it counts. Pat Maroon, he of the two goals against the Capitals, talked about it after the game as well. By playing physical, not just big hits or fighting, but by winning puck battles and establishing a presence in front of both nets, that’s how the Lightning will be successful in the postseason. “Checking your way to victory” is how Coach Cooper describes it.
They still haven’t achieved their regular season goal which is to qualify for the playoffs. The magic number has been trimmed to two, though. One more win or one more loss for the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres will get them there. The fact that they are getting there by playing playoff-style hockey is an added bonus. With just six regular season games to go, it’s a good time for the Lightning to be finding their stride.
It’s also nice that four of the six games will be against teams with something to play for. There are two against the New York Islanders who are fighting for a playoff spot, one against the New York Rangers who are still trying to get to the top seed of the Metro Division, and one against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who, well, would love to beat the Bolts a week before they meet in the playoffs. That should keep the Lightning on their toes.
Lightning / NHL News
Bolts cruise past Capitals [Raw Charge]
The Big Rig scored twice in the third period to turn a close game into a more comfortable win. Tampa Bay closed out a shaky March with a couple of solid wins. Hopefully that bods well for a solid April (and May and June).
Success follows Lightning when Vasilevskiy is clutch late [Tampa Bay Times]
Limiting a team’s scoring chances is the key for the Lightning’s success. Well, that and Vasilevskiy playing at the top of his game.
Coach Cooper postgame comments [NHL.com]
“It’s been a hell of a ride and it’s not near over.” Starting to get those playoff vibes.
Pat Maroon postgame comments [NHL.com]
“Urgency, being physical.” Pat Maroon talks about the team finding it’s identity over the last few games.
Two Gophers named as Hobey Baker finalists [Minnesota Star Tribune]
Matthew Knies (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Logan Cooley (Arizona Coyotes) are only the third teammates to be named finalists since the award process was modernized. Dylan Duke’s teammate at the University of Michigan, Adam Fantilli (2023 draft eligible) was the third finalist. The winner will be announced next Friday in Tampa during the Frozen Four.
Sie put together a thread of all of the former SBNation sites that have launched independently. Make sure you bookmark them and give them a read. More site will be relaunching in the coming days.
Connor McDavid notched his 61st goal of the season and the 300th of his career. He became the third-fastest active skater to hit that milestone as he did it in his 563rd game. The only ones to do it faster were Alex Ovechkin (473 games) and our captain, Steven Stamkos (550 games). McDavid’s teammate, Leon Draisaitly is fifth on the list as he did it in 630 games.
The action from around the league last night: