Monday was interesting. It makes me wonder if we’re going to suffer a bit when the amount of games in play shrinks with each round.
In Game 5, Red Wings - Lightning was a serious snoozer. Game 6, on the other hand, was so full of memorable moments that it blunted the mild disappointment of the New York Islanders’ no-show against the Washington Capitals in Game 7.
(OK, I say so as I finally instituted a two-screen setup for the playoffs: two flat screens side by side. It’s a sports dream or a nightmare, depending upon whom you ask.)
Anyway, it remains to be seen if we see more clogged-up games than thrill rides. Really, I think I speak for most who aren’t just purely in the “My Team Needs to Win” camps by saying that I merely hope that the good outweighs the bad.
At least, that’s me trying to be a little more positive about the postseason. The first round has been great, and thanks to the Lightning, we’ll get one more Game 7 on Wednesday. Let’s jump into Monday’s two recaps, shall we?
CAPITALS 2, ISLANDERS 1 (Washington advances)
-- I don't throw the phrase no-show around often, but how else can you describe the Isles' poor effort in this one? With their season on the line, the Islanders only managed 11 SOG. In the entire game. Eight of those shots came from defensemen. John Tavares didn't even manage a SHOT ATTEMPT.
-- Officiating isn't really helping matters, but it's not just a playoffs issue. Obstruction hasn't drawn whistles all season, really, and the only difference is that the postseason shines a spotlight on these issues.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov's game-winner was a great show of patience, and his third goal of the postseason. His line alongside Marcus Johansson (and fleet-footed if limited forward Jason Chimera) looks like it can do a little damage in the playoffs.
-- I don't want to dump on the Capitals, but man, an Islanders - Rangers series would have been so fruitful ... especially from a narrative standpoint. This is now the fifth Caps - Rangers series since 2009. Not sure how we skin that cat, unless you're REALLY into new head coaches.
-- Braden Holtby is lucky that Kuznetsov scored that goal, because the lone goal he allowed was W-E-A-K.
-- Jaroslav Halak was very close to stealing another elimination game from the Capitals, but it wasn't meant to be. If nothing else, the Islanders should feel fairly comfortable about their goaltending situation.
Well, their starting situation, at least. They could still use a better backup, especially since Halak seems a little fragile.
LIGHTNING 5, RED WINGS 2
Wow, what a game. To review, the stuff that was memorable even if it only mattered so much fantasy-wise:
-- Brian Boyle was robbed by a great Petr Mrazek save, maybe the best stop of the postseason. Now, I know people want to downgrade certain stops because of a mediocre shot - people say Boyle shot right into him - but I still think it was great.
I mean, maybe if you want to boil things down to weed out the best and merely the good, I get it. But can't we just have good things?
See, I'm trying to be positive here.
-- Niklas Kronwall's hit on Nikita Kucherov didn't even draw a penalty, and after the game, Tampa Bay people didn't even really gripe about it. Still, it was another moment where someone got "Kronwalled," which is extra-notable since the guy has never been suspended. Doubt it happens for a Game 7 after he's avoided supplemental discipline in the past.
Kronwall is like a cat in that he seems to have nine suspension-avoided lives ... at least if cats caused possible head injuries.
-- It hasn't made a huge difference as star players tend to avoid a lot of the incidental roughing penalties that come with brawls, but still. Steve Stamkos has 12 PIM in six games. To be fair, the great sniper hasn't been a total pushover in general, with 316 PIM in 492 career regular season games.
Sure, Stamkos is struggling to score (still zero goals, although he did get an assist), but perhaps things will turn around in a big way in Game 7?
Anyway, let's move on to more typical points.
-- The game featured two two-goal scorers: Tyler Johnson (now six on the postseason) an Tomas Tatar (giving him three). Johnson managed to do so on two SOG. The small forward now has six goals on 19 SOG, good for just a 31.6 shooting percentage. As fantastic as he is, a dry spell could be coming. Tampa Bay must hope that Stamkos' shooting luck kicks in when Johnson's slips, then.
-- Nikita Kucherov absorbed that big hit, but that wasn't his only noteworthy moment. He collected three assists, a +3 rating, four SOG and four hits.
-- Ben Bishop actually had better numbers than Mrazek, yet Bishop didn’t inspire the most confidence with his play. That’s something to watch in Game 7.