They don’t call the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs the Second Season for nothing. Accomplishments during the NHL’s regular season be damned; everything starts at zero, every team starts on an even keel. Every team has a chance.
Game One and the first period of play, the Lightning did what was expected of them. The high flying ability of the 2018-19 President Trophy winning club was on display.
After the first intermission of Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, things changed. The next eight periods of play were rife with… what? I don’t know. It just didn’t come off like the gameplay that so many bore witness to from the club during the regular season. Chippiness, penalties, scrums, and fights. One might put the spotlight on the Columbus Blue Jackets for that as if they were the antagonists… No, no… It was an NHL game and the team that was antagonizing most heavily was the Lightning. Penalizations ensued. Opportunities rained down on the Jackets by way of it.
Eight periods of play – the bulk of Game One, Game Two and THree in full… the damage was done and Columbus capitalized on it with sound play, leading to their own imposing play and victories. Excuses could be made — primarily that chief defenseman Victor Hedman was playing while injured and was sidelined with Anton Stralman for Game Four — but that’s just it, an excuse. That’s not to say Hedman being hurt didn’t cause issues, it’s that what was going on in Lightning team play wasn’t defensive lapses. It was overall team play and perhaps game-plan lapses
The titans of contention during the 2018-19 regular season turned into the also-ran roster of the 2019 Second Season. That’s it. That’s the way to look at it.Continue reading