New York Islanders: Overmatched Against Tampa Bay Lightning?
The New York Islanders were just coming off an emotional seven-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers. New York won Game 7 against Philadelphia 4-0 on Saturday night at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.
The Islanders had a quick turnaround for the Eastern Conference Finals and they got crushed 8-2 on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Rogers Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.
One Big Question
The question is very simple is New York simply outmatched against Tampa Bay in this series or is it due to a quick turnaround they had no time to rest? The answer to this question is both.
The Lightning have by far an inferior roster compared to the Islanders. Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, and Brayden Point are the top four players on Tampa Bay’s roster though. By the way, their captain Steven Stamkos hasn’t even played a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs due to an injury. This isn’t an oh no situation.
Stamkos is a Top 5 to 10 player in the NHL when he is healthy though.
Greiss had six saves in the game for the New York Islanders. He was pulled in the first-period after trailing 3-1.
Semyon Varlamov came in relief and he didn’t fare much better either though. Varlamov recorded 20 saves in the game, but he gave up five goals and his body language wasn’t very good.
It is a shame they can’t turn to Christopher Gibson or rely on the goalie of the future Ilya Sorokin yet in this series. I think Barry Trotz, the head coach of the New York Islanders. will go back to Thomas Greiss for Game 2. Two of the three goals he gave up were complete rockets from the point by a defenseman and he had no chance on those goals.
Anders Lee is the heart and soul of this team. Lee will need to be better and he will need to do more, along with his teammates.
Anders Lee had an assist on Jordan Eberle‘s power-play goal just 4:33 into the game. Mathew Barzal also recorded an assist on Eberle’s goal though. It was a 1-1 game at that point.
Even when they were down 4-1 in the second period after Yanni Gourde‘s goal just 4:03 in, the New York Islanders had some very good chances on the power play.
They were 1-for-5 on the power play and Tampa Bay was 3-for-6.
Patrick Maroon and Kevin Shattenkirk recorded assists on Gourde’s goal.
Power On Point
When Brayden Point scored a power-play goal with 6:42 remaining in the second period, that put a damper on the New York Islanders comeback hopes. Point’s goal was assisted by Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov.
Point, Kucherov, and Vasilevskiy are the favorites to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded 22 saves in the game for Tampa Bay.
Curtis McElhinney is the backup goalie and he would only come in if the Lightning is playing extremely bad or if Vasilevskiy is hurt, which I hope doesn’t happen nor the Tampa Bay Lightning though.
We will see what lineup changes Barry Trotz makes for the New York Islanders heading into Game 2, but it appears as if they are still a few missing pieces away from winning it all.
As for Jon Cooper’s bunch, I wouldn’t expect any changes in Game 2 and I would expect them to play seven defensemen again though. I don’t think this series is going to last more than five games. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a sweep, but it would be a surprise to see this series last six games, seven games, or see a New York Islanders upset though.
As long as the Tampa Bay Lightning win this series, they would face either the Dallas Stars or the Vegas Golden Knights in the next round though.
Tampa Bay has everything to lose and New York has everything to gain though.
Do you think the New York Islanders are outmatched against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference of the Stanley Cup Playoffs though? Leave a comment below.
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Follow Glenn Kaplan on Twitter @glennkaplan13.