Subiect: Felipe Vazquez
Jon Cooper walked into the locker room and didn’t get the sense Lightning players were down in the dumps about losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference final.
”It was more kind of like an anger of like we want to get back – like let’s get Game 3 going here Kenny Clark Jersey ,” Tampa Bay’s coach said.
Game 3 on Tuesday night in Washington can’t come soon enough for the Lightning, who are in a historically difficult spot after losing twice at home to open the series.
Of the 41 previous times a team lost the first two games in the conference finals, 39 went on to lose the series – including every team that lost its first two at home.
”For us, it’s all about resetting everything,” defenseman Victor Hedman said Monday. ”There’s no panic. We’re obviously not happy with losing two games on home ice, but that is not something that goes into our locker room.
”We’ve got the experience. We’ve got the guys that are in the playoffs for the first time, guys have been through this, and we’re capable of handling that.”
The Lightning under Cooper haven’t lost the first two games of a series since 2014, when they were swept in the first round by Montreal. That was a learning experience players could point to when they went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but right now it’s just an ugly deficit.
It is the same deficit the Lightning erased against the Capitals in 2003.
”If you just look where you stand in the series, I feel like it’s a big mountain to climb,” said former Lightning captain Martin St. Louis, who was on that team. ”They got to focus on just winning the next game. And I truly believe if they do that, it’s going to be a long series.”
After not allowing Boston to score an even-strength goal in the final three games during the second round, Tampa Bay has been outscored 7-1 by Washington at even strength and 10-4 overall.
Asked what the Lightning needed to do better, three-time Cup-winning defenseman Ken Daneyko responded, ”Where do we begin?”
”They were so responsible defensively, making good puck decisions and through the first two rounds they didn’t give up a whole lot,” said Daneyko Trey Hendrickson Jersey , now an NHL Network analyst.
”Just mental breakdowns, mental mistakes by Tampa Bay. You never know why it turns so drastically like that when they were so sound against the Bruins. That can’t happen.”
Mistakes are happening in abundance, most notably passing up shots that lead to opportunities the other way. And ill-timed penalties late in periods have led directly to Capitals power-play goals, which definitely can’t continue happening if the Lightning want to make this a series.
”We need to do a better job of not getting in that situation, not letting two games in a row, 7, 8 seconds left on the power play and they get one,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. ”That’s something we can definitely control ourselves.”
As clinically as Tampa Bay eliminated New Jersey and Boston in five games apiece, Washington is rolling behind the scoring of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and the goaltending of Braden Holtby, who has stopped 52 of 56 shots through two games.
The Capitals are feeling confident right now, but after falling behind 0-2 on home ice in the first round and roaring back to beat Columbus, they understand how fast things can swing.
”We’re off to a heck of a start, but we’ve got to take care of business at home,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”If they win one or two here, boy, the momentum switches big time.”
For the Lightning to win one or two games, they’ll need to get better production out of captain Steven Stamkos and winger Nikita Kucherov and better play out of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who hasn’t been at his best.
”He’s going to have to be great,” said Keith Jones Joe Flacco Jersey , a former NHL forward and current NBC Sports analyst. ”He’s being challenged to look through traffic and stay up. … Vasilevskiy’s going to have to play unbelievably well unless the Capitals take a step back.”
If the Lightning can’t figure out how to fix many of their problems from the net out, it’ll be a short series. Cooper sounded confident of a turnaround.
”There’s a really good group of guys there,” Cooper said. ”They’ve got a ton of experience and when their backs have been against the wall, they’ve shown a propensity to fight back. This is a tough one. We lost two at home and it’s definitely not an ideal situation. But we’re not done. It’s not over.”
NOTES: Capitals coach Barry Trotz said C Nicklas Backstrom, who has missed three consecutive games with a right hand injury, remains day-to-day. … Washington D Michal Kempny was fined $2,419 – the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement – for cross-checking Lightning F Cedric Paquette during Game 2.
Forward Victor Olofsson had never heard of Rasmus Dahlin until encountering the then-16-year-old defenseman during their first practice together with Frolunda in Sweden two years ago.
”He got the puck on the blue line and I was going toward him, and he just put it between my legs and went in and scored,” Olofsson when the two were reunited at the Buffalo Sabres‘ prospect development camp.
”I thought it was a fluke at first,” he said. ”But when he did it again and again, it’s not just a fluke.”
What Olofsson first witnessed was put on display during the four-day camp and in front of crowds of 2,000 fans, who turned out daily to catch their first glimpse of the No. 1 player selected in the NHL draft June 22.
Dahlin performed as advertised with his effortless skating ability, and head-up, stick-handling style that made it seem as if the 18-year-old had the puck on a string.
Seemingly trapped behind the net during a 3-on-3 scrimmage Saturday, Dahlin shifted right and then moved left to get around one defender, before making a nifty deke to avoid another. There was the goal he scored Wednesday, when Dahlin drove into the slot, leaned to his right before snapping a shot inside the left post.
The play capturing everyone’s attention was a clean O. J. Simpson Jersey , open-ice check the lean, 6-foot-2, 185-pound Dahlin delivered in bowling over forward Matej Pekar on Friday.
”Oh, yeah, it just happens sometimes,” Dahlin said with a shrug.
Not lost on numerous observers, was how the hit might have been payback, coming a day after Pekar caught Dahlin with a high stick.
”I think it probably validates what we know how competitive a kid he is. He certainly doesn’t have a short-term memory,” assistant general manager Steve Greeley said. ”But that’s one of the attributes we loved about him.”
Pekar never saw Dahlin coming.
”I’ve never seen him hit somebody like that,” Pekar said. ”I thought it was somebody else. But I was surprised, yeah.”
An hour later, the two laughed about what happened over lunch.
Coach Phil Housley was cautious in saying he didn’t want to place too much emphasis on one play or player during a development camp.
And yet, the Hall of Fame defenseman noted the promise Dahlin brings to a franchise that has finished last in three of the past five years and is in the midst of a team-worst seven-year playoff drought.
”To get the player we got, it’s really important for our city and western New York. It gives a little hope that we get a first overall pick,” Housley said. ”It was a big moment for our franchise.”
Dahlin was wowed by the fan turnout, saying he never had anyone cheer when he previously scored during practice. He also noted how many fans were already wearing his No. 26 Sabres jersey, which was priced at more than $200 since going on sale Monday.
”I’m super impressed that they even know who I am,” Dahlin said. ”I know they love hockey. And I will try to win hockey games so we can give back to them.”
Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula was struck by the poise Dahlin shows for his age.
She recalled a conversation she had with her husband, Terry Pegula Derrick Thomas Jersey , before the Sabres first met with Dahlin at the NHL combine in Buffalo in late May.
”I said to Terry, no one says anything bad about him. And I’m like, `There’s got to be something. He’s got to have a weakness,”’ Pegula told The Associated Press.
”But everyone from his coaches to players who have played with him, all of them rave about him,” she added.
”You can definitely see as a young man playing in the Swedish men’s league how that experience has really matured him,” Pegula said. ”You can see the benefits of that as he’s handled the press, as he’s handled the combine, the world juniors and the draft. So he’s been exceptional in all those areas.”
Dahlin has spent the past two years playing in Sweden’s Elite League , where he had eight goals and 15 assists in 67 games. In February, he represented Sweden at the South Korean Winter Games, where he had an assist in two games.
Next step is the NHL, where he is all but assured of a spot on Buffalo’s roster in October. Dahlin is taking nothing for granted by shrugging off the accolades directed his way.
”Of course it’s fun to hear,” Dahlin said. ”But you have to put in the work, too.”
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