Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tom Gulitti of NHL.com,
Here are 5 keys for Game 5:
MURRAY TO FLEURY
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will make his first start since he sustained a concussion on March 31 against the Nashville Predators. He has been medically cleared since May 2 and has been dressing as rookie Matt Murray's backup, but his only game action was a seven-save outing in the third period of a 4-3 loss in Game 4 on Friday.
After resisting the temptation earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coach Mike Sullivan is turning to the 31-year-old Sorel, Quebec native at a pivotal juncture in the series. All eyes will be on Fleury to see if he has any rust from his long layoff....
The loss of Trevor Daley to a broken ankle is a significant one for the Penguins. The 32-year-old defenseman's puck-moving skill and skating ability are integral parts of the Penguins' transition game and he ranks second on the team in averaging 22:08 in ice time per game.
Olli Maatta is likely to get the call in Daley's place. A healthy scratch the past three games, Maatta, 21, needs to elevate his play after struggling in Game 1 of this series, and at times in the first two rounds against the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals.
"It doesn't matter what day it is, you have to be ready to play the next game," Maatta said. "You never know what's going to happen. You've just got to make sure you're ready."
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Let me explain why the Penguins still will win the series in six games.
Marc-Andre Fleury will play well in goal the rest of the way. It’s not as if rookie Matt Murray played poorly Friday night when he was benched after the second period. His teammates were lousy around him. It’s just time for Mike Sullivan to go back to Fleury — the Penguins’ best player all season — after getting him some action in Game 4 for the first time since Fleury left the lineup with a concussion after the March 31 game against Nashville. The other players love Fleury, easily the most popular player in the room. They will rally around him, just as they did Friday night when they scored three third-period goals but ran out of time.
Olli Maatta, who was benched for the past three games after a series of mistakes earlier in the playoffs, will do a serviceable job filling in for injured Trevor Daley, who went down in Game 4 with what looked to be a serious left leg injury. Daley’s loss can’t be overestimated. It is significant because of his quickness, puck-moving ability and overall defensive skills. But Maatta has too much ability and too much pride not to bounce back. All of the defensemen will play better around Fleury. Letang, for sure, won’t lose his mind again, although Boyle will do everything he can to tempt him.
Kessel will continue to torment Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. He scored the Penguins’ first goal in Game 4 and has points — five goals and four assists — in six consecutive games. Kessel is feeling it like never before in his career. You could see it Friday night the way he fired 10 shots at Vasilevskiy, six making it on net. You could see it the way he chirped at Vasilevskiy after his latest goal.
from Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
First things first, head coach Mike Sullivan had no updates on defenseman Trevor Daley who left the game at 10:32 of the second period. Battling for a puck in the Penguins' left corner, Daley and right winger Ryan Callahan collided. Daley went down in a heap and had trouble recovering to his skates.
Daley needed assistance off the ice and into the dressing room. He did not return. He left Amalie Arena on crutches.
Sullivan suggested he could have some information Saturday.
As far as the game goes, the Penguins got thoroughly outplayed for the first 40 minutes. Almost literally from the start, they were chasing the Lightning. They gave up a goal less than 30 seconds into play and were playing from behind the entire night. They scraped out three goals in the third period to make it interesting and really came close to tying the game a few times. But as captain/center Sidney Crosby said, "We didn't deserve to win."
The Lightning is a very good team. Despite what Games 2 and 3 looked like as far as the possession battle was concerned, this wasn't going to be a mismatch in favor of the Penguins the way the first and second rounds were against the Rangers and Capitals respectively. The Lightning can play with the Penguins when it comes to speed and possession.
Tonight, they were better at the Penguins' own game.
See the Daley injury below.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
If you’re following this Eastern Conference Final closely, you might as well go ahead and clear your schedule for next Thursday night.
That’s when Game 7 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning is scheduled.
It’s not currently necessary, but it probably will be.
The way the Lightning responded here in Game 4 all but guaranteed it. They hadn’t played particularly well the previous two games and were backed into a corner. On Friday night, Tampa built a 4-0 lead by the second intermission and gutted through a furious Penguins push over the final 20 minutes to even the series.
“We’re a good character team,” said defenceman Anton Stralman. “I think we know our weaknesses and we know how to change from game to game if something was bad before. We certainly did tonight.
“I thought we upped our game, all over the ice, all three zones. Battle levels, everything.”
Highlights are below...
Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay8:00 PM ET NBCSN, CBC & TVAS
Penguins lead the seried 2-1 and with a win tonight, they will be playing at home on Sunday night with a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Do the Lightning have enough in them to force this into a long series? We are about to find out.
Discuss the game if you so desire.
via a PR release from the NHL...
SHOWTIME Sports released the open/tease for the upcoming real-time, behind-the-scenes documentary series ALL ACCESS: Quest For The Stanley Cup. Narrated by acclaimed Broadway actor and 2016 Tony Award-nominated Bill Camp, the highly anticipated series premieres TONIGHT, May 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.
The docu-series is the first of its kind to nationally televise the championship of a major North American sport as it unfolds. The weekly episodes chronicle the four teams remaining in the quest for the Stanley Cup®: the St. Louis Blues®, the San Jose Sharks®, the Pittsburgh Penguins® and the Tampa Bay Lightning®. The best-of-seven-games winners will meet in the Stanley Cup Final for the chance to hoist one of the most iconic trophies in all of sports.
ALL ACCESS: Quest For The Stanley Cup is produced by 54-time Sports Emmy® Award winning producer Ross Greenburg, who pioneered the sports documentary series genre.
Watch a segment below...
from Tom Gulitti of NHL.com,
Here are 5 keys for Game 4:
1. TRIPLET THREAT
Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited his "Triplets" line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov in the third period of Game 3 on Wednesday and they combined for two goals in a 4-2 loss. After being outshot 89-49 in losing the past two games, the Lightning need an offensive spark. But Cooper seems reluctant to use the "Triplets" together for the full game because he wants balanced scoring from his four lines.
Cooper hinted he could use Palat, Johnson and Kucherov together in certain situations in Game 4. That's what Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has done with some effectiveness the past two games in picking his spots to use Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the same line. Maybe using the "Triplets" similarly will be enough. But Cooper shouldn't hesitate to rely on them more if the Lightning struggle to produce scoring chances again.
from Tom Gulitti of NHL.com,
One of the narratives entering the Eastern Conference Final focused on the comparatively easier path the Tampa Bay Lightning had to the NHL's Final Four.
The Lightning were impressive in defeating the Detroit Red Wings, who finished with 93 points, in the first round and the New York Islanders, who earned the first wild card with 100 points, in the second round, taking each series in five games.
But some wondered what would happen what would happen when they faced stiffer competition.
Regardless of what you think of the Red Wings and Islanders, it's been abundantly evident in the past two games that the Lightning's opponent in the Eastern Final, the Pittsburgh Penguins, is a completely different animal. The Penguins dominated for the second game in a row on their way to a 4-2 victory in Game 3 of the best-of-7 series at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.
Although the Lightning were one shot away from winning Game 2 and taking the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh, they were badly outplayed for long stretches of that 3-2 overtime loss Monday. After a good opening seven minutes of Game 3, the Lightning had few answers again for the Penguins' relentless speed and depth, other than relying heavily on 21-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 44 saves.
Game highlights are below...
Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay 8:00 PM ET NBCSN, CBC & TVAS
Series is tied at 1-1 and the Bolts will once again be without Ben Bishop and Steven Stamkos.
I consider this a pivotal game and going with the Lightning.
Discuss the game if you wish.
from Chris Gordon of the New York Times,
Two star goaltenders were here Monday night for Game 2 of the N.H.L.’s Eastern Conference finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins. But one sat on the bench while the other watched from the press box.
A matchup between these two teams would normally have pitted Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, 29, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the N.H.L.’s top regular-season goalie, against Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, 31, who in 2009 helped lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup.
Instead, their 21-year-old understudies, the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Penguins’ Matt Murray, are on the ice in the make-or-break postseason.
The question is whether the two young goalies will continue to dominate the series or the veterans will make a comeback.
Vasilevskiy was called into action midway through the first period of Game 1 on Friday after Bishop fell awkwardly and was carted off on a stretcher. On Tuesday, Lightning Coach Jon Cooper said he was optimistic that Bishop would return to the series at some point, though Bishop had not skated with the team or taken shots since his injury.
If Murray falters, Fleury could be back in the net. Sidelined after a concussion late in the regular season, Fleury was cleared to resume playing two weeks ago. But Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan has stuck with Murray for 11 straight playoff games.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org