Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Smith of Lightning Strikes,
Much has been made about the reslience of the battle-tested Rangers, who are 15-3 in elimination games since 2012, and 7-0 in Game 7s at home.
"It seems like they always step up at the right moment and everyone is on their game when they need it the most," said D Anton Stralman, a former Ranger.
But as the Lightning enters tomorrow's Game 7 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, it enters with confidence having "been there" before, too, learning a lot from its Game 7 victory over Detroit in the first round.
"When you have success in them, we went to Game 7 and won, and right away, you just know you can do it," coach Jon Cooper said. "Knowing you're under the highest boarding pressure of situations when the season can potentially end, or you can go on and play for the Stanley Cup. Our guys have responded. We had success and found a way to win. I think that's what really pushed us in the Montreal series, and helped us in the Rangers series. We know we can do this. It's just a matter of have to do it again in a short couple weeks."
D Victor Hedman said that Game 7 against Detroit was "huge" for this young team, realizing how it has to play to be successful with its back against the wall.
from Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times,
There will be a Game 7. Of course there will be a Game 7. What else did you expect?
In a series where there has been little momentum and even less logic, the Lightning's golden chance to close out the Rangers in its own building was kicked away in a frustrating 7-3 loss. It was a game much closer than the score suggested.
But the ultimate result — a loss — does suggest that the Lightning's inexperience on this big stage had something to do with its inability to close out a series that was there for the taking.
"It's tough," Lightning forward Ryan Callahan said. "You want to finish it out when you can. It's one of those ones you move past. You still got another opportunity. So we got to go the road and win on the road."
Good luck with that. Now comes the long plane ride back to New York and even longer odds to advance to the round where Lord Stanley's Cup will be waiting for the winner.
"Game 7 in Madison Square Garden," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Fun? Sounds like anything but.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Challenge accepted by the resilient Rangers, who staved off elimination for the fourth time this spring and for the 15th time over the last four tournaments with Tuesday’s 7-3 Game 6 victory over the Lightning to set up yet another Game 7 at the Garden on Friday, winner getting to go to the Stanley Cup final.
Challenge accepted by Derick Brassard, who recorded a hat trick and five-point night following a morning meeting with Alain Vigneault in which the coach urged No. 16 and fellow 1A/1B center Derek Stepan to lift their respective games.
“I told them that we needed them to step up and be difference-makers,” the coach told The Post. “And they did, they both responded, they both came through with what we needed.
“Brass’ line was great.”
added 8:21am, from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Oh yes, Mr. Elimination Game was huge again. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 of 39 shots on the evening, his pad save on Stamkos in the first period an absolutely heart-stopper.
Just Hank being Hank, he now sports a ridiculous .954 save percentage in those 18 elimination games since 2012.
"Everything on the line again and we found a way," said Lundqvist. "I felt like we had a really tough time in the second to get pucks deep, and they're a really good team when you don't get the pucks in the right places. But then in the third, I think maybe our experience in these situations helped us, because we come out and play extremely well, a smart period until you get out of hand a little bit.
"It's such an important time right now, and for us to come through like this in a big game, it's always good for your confidence. It's a good feeling."
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
They keep finding ways to put their backs against the wall. The wall never seems that far away, does it? It’s a constant companion. The Lightning are infuriating that way. We can’t figure them out.
They might have backed into the wall one time too many, against the wrong customers.
It’s their own fault.
There will be a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite a great, gaping opportunity, the Lightning didn’t come close to closing out the New York Rangers in Game 6 at Amalie Arena. Note: The Rangers don’t like to be closed out. They blasted the Lightning, 7-3.
How do you roll out a miserable third period like that when you’re only one goal down and one win from the Stanley Cup finals?
Even with the Rangers practically playing ragged prevent through two periods, begging to be beaten, they led 2-1 heading to the third. Well, maybe the New York goaltender wasn’t begging to be beaten.
And when push came to shove, the Bolts were blown away.
Watch the game highlights below...
A game the Tampa Bay Lightning want to win. At home and a win puts them in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Rangers want to force game 7 and I expect a low-scoring game, decided late in the game.
Watch on NBCSN, CBC or TVA with the puck dropping just after 8:00pm ET.
Comment below if you wish.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Cooper was adamant about ensuring no feeling of complacency had settled in around his group.
"We can't just sit here and say we played a pretty good game in Game 5, that'll just carry us into a win tonight," he said. "If we don't play better than we did in Game 5, we won't win tonight. That's kind of my message."
The affable coach has won five championships during his career, but has never experienced a game as big as this one.
"For me it's excitement, nervousness, fear, anticipation," said Cooper. "I can whip through a bunch of things. It's really an exciting time."
more on both teams...
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
The difference between these two teams during the first five games? Tampa Bay’s best players have made a difference. New York’s have not.
The Lightning have scored 16 goals in the series, all of which can be attributed to their top-six forwards. Steven Stamkos has tallied in each of the past four games and is playing his best hockey when his team needs him most. Nikita Kucherov has six points. So does Tyler Johnson. No. 1 defenseman Victor Hedman has four assists in the series. They’ve been like shark teeth. If one falls out, another is in place to continue tearing the Rangers to shreds.
It hasn’t been so easy for New York’s finest. Rick Nash was great in Game 4, but was back to settling for perimeter chances in Game 5. Martin St. Louis has one goal and should probably stand up and wave at the camera at some point so we can verify that he’s shown up. Chris Kreider apparently needs to hire a Sherpa to guide him to the Lightning’s crease and a friendly reminder that he’s at his best when he’s making the other team angry. Derick Brassard has had his moments (that Game 4 pass to St. Louis who put it away) but they’ve been too few and too far between.
The Rangers need a stand-up effort from their blueline as well. The Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi pair has been an inconsistent answer to The Triplets of Tampa Bay.
Watch and listen....
from Joe McDonald of ESPN,
"It’s a roller coaster of emotions. It goes up and down," Lundqvist said. "You just have to deal with it the best you can, deal with the pressure you put on yourself, expectations you have on you. It just comes down to keeping your focus on what you need to do -- that’s it. Don’t focus on too many other things, especially things you can’t control."
Bishop’s calmness should be bottled and sold over the counter as a sleeping drug.
"You’ve got to treat it like the regular season," he said. "When you play 60-whatever games, you’re going to have some good ones, you’re going to have some bad ones. You’re going to have some unlucky ones, you’re going to have some lucky ones. It’s kind of the same in the playoffs. You can’t put too much emphasis on one game. ... You just can’t look at it in a real short window. You’ve got to look at it big picture, and that’s a big thing. If you treat it like the regular season, where there’s going to be good games and bad games, it’s easier to move on."
What allows two quality goaltenders to remain so calm in a situation such as this?
"It doesn’t get any easier," one NHL goalie coach said. "Certainly, the pressure surrounding the games ramps up as you go through the rounds. In a lot of ways, the game’s almost a little bit easier because everybody is so attentive to blocking shots, picking up your checks, making good, hard plays."
from the CP at TSN,
Steven Stamkos knows what it's like to come close to getting to the Stanley Cup Final and wind up not playing on the NHL's biggest stage.
It happened to the Tampa Bay Lightning four years ago, and the three-time All-Star is determined to not let another opportunity slip away.
After a slow start to the playoffs, the high-scoring team captain helped the speedy Lightning push the New York Rangers to the brink of elimination from the Eastern Conference finals.
Game 6 is Tuesday night at Amalie Arena. A Lightning victory will send Tampa Bay to the Cup finals for the second time in franchise history. And the Rangers are looking to extend the series to a seventh game, which would be played Friday night in New York.
"You kind of have to realize where you are and kind of use that as a little bit of motivation," Stamkos said. "The harsh reality is, some guys in this room may never get the chance to get this far again. Hopefully everybody does, but you never know in this sport."
Stamkos knows first-hand. He and defenseman Victor Hedman are the only players remaining from the Tampa Bay team that came within one victory of playing in the Cup finals in 2011. The Lightning lost Game 7 to Boston 1-0 and didn't win another playoff game until this year.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
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