Playoff Update: Bolts on the Brink
As announcer, Darren Pang would say, “HOLY Jumpin”. Or as I would say, “HOLY Sh$%”. In a word, shocking. In the first period of Game 1 between the Lightning and Blue Jackets, the Bolts flew out of the gate and scored 3 goals. Since then, they have fallen as silent as the dead, and I don’t mean the Dead Army in Game of Thrones. It seemed as if the Jackets fell flat and were going to be blown away in 4 games. However, a bad turnover by the Bolts defense and a Nick Foligno breakaway goal changed the series completely. The Jackets came back to score three more goals and win game 1 and have continued dominating the Bolts since, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead. In games 2 and 3, the Jackets have pressured the Bolts defense and Vezina hopeful Andrei Vasilevskiy, completely shut down and frustrated all of the Bolts high scoring threats and physically bullied the Bolts. I do not think anyone was expecting this sort of performance from either team.
Now we will see how good the @TBLightning really is. Are they good enough as a team to battle through adversity? Only time will tell.
— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) April 13, 2019
Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper was pretty much speechless in his post game 3 interview. The Bolts who tied the regular season record for wins in a season are on the brink of the biggest flop in NHL playoff history. If there is any team that could come back from an 0-3 hole, it would be this team, but not the way they have been playing.
Also in the East, the New York Islanders have had Sidney Crosby and the Penguins number. Up 3-0 in the series, the Islanders have shut down Crosby, who has a whopping ZERO points in the series. The Islanders have stuck to the same strategy that they have the entire season.
"We really stuck with our game. Credit to Ebs for that shot and then to have Brock follow up with it quickly after. It really changed the momentum of the game." @leeberr09 #Isles pic.twitter.com/U1UgjCjVGk
— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 14, 2019
Work heavily on the back end and allow some space for the speedier guys like Mat Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier to enter the zone and set up the gritty offense. I have been very impressed with the play of goalie Robin Lehner. I’ll admit, I have never been a huge fan of his. He has been a backup at best in the past, but this season he has really turned his career (Jennings Trophy Winner) and his life around and it has been a great story to follow.
In the high flying West, the Flames and Avalanche have played 2 extremely fast-paced games and one very lopsided game. The Avalanche took a 2-1 series lead last night. The Flames, behind a shutout from Mike Smith and 2 goals from Matthew Tkachuk, dominated game 1. In game 2, Nathan Mackinnon took control in overtime and scored off of a sweet top shelf snap-shot which carried over to a dominating Avalanche performance in game 3.
Colorado also signed Hobey Baker winner Cale Makar on Sunday. In game 3 on Monday, Makar stepped on the ice for his first shift, took his first shot and scored his first goal. If Makar can continue to grow and adjust on the fly, the Avalanche can make a stronger push than expected for the cup.
There is a lot of hockey left (thank goodness), and the remainder of the playoffs could look very different than everyone thought if the Blue Jackets could win another game. The running for the cup will be WIDE open for the taking.