When the NHL took a break, electricity and the islands were heading in the wrong direction. Now they are in a four-win race that will determine who will play for the Stanley Cup. Catch the game starting at 8pm tonight on Sportsnet ET.
Edmonton – Jean-Gabriel Pejou was still a member of the Ottawa Senate when he last faced the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning. And Blake Coleman and Berkeley Gudro have yet to acquire the two-thirds structure of the Tamper matchup line.
There should be little resemblance to what we see in this pre-conference final as a result of the game on February 8th.
Although the NHL is coming back from its Covid-19 break to end the 2012-2017 season, what we have seen this summer is basically a new year. Most of the 20 teams that were sent home failed to reach their previous standards after a four-month break.
The islanders were especially able to raise their bar. Tampa are a stronger team than they are on March 11, despite going to the playoffs without captain Steven Stamcos.
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Before Monday’s games, Lightning coach John Cooper said, “They were the two teams that changed their rasters a little bit.” There are two groups that probably have something to prove in different ways.
“The two teams that bought it and I think the two teams are sitting right where we are. As we watched it move forward, both teams had to fight through various adversities and find a way out.
“And that’s what you’re getting now.”
Cooper and his staff have a week to prepare for the conference final after sending Boston Bruins to five games. They saw the last game these teams played – Amalie Arya won a 3-1 Tampa – but don’t expect it to have too much relevance now.
When the season was interrupted, both teams were heading in the wrong direction.
The Islanders were 2-ers-4 at this point and Tampa went 3-3.
Barry Trots believes his team came to a break point the way they came to a break. It started with weekly calls and spread as soon as they came back on the ice together. They had a plan and a healthy amount of focus.
“Proper preparations are underway there [the players’] On the side of my staff and proper preparation, ”Trots said. “We made sure we were ready to go. We played a lot of great teams on the way here and we have to go some great teams if we want to go further.
“This is our challenge now.”
Power is in this position for the fourth time in six years and Trots coached against them in the Eastern Conference final in 2018 on their way to the Washington Capital Stanley Cup.
Although all of Tamper’s key players remain the same, he believes the recent acquisition lineup has helped create a new identity. Coleman and Gudro were both trade deadline pickups and they formed a detrimental Pak follow-up line with Yannie Gurd in these playoffs – producing 68 percent of the expected target in 5-on-5.
“They work. They work very hard and they push,” the forward told Cassie Cicicas, an islander. So we just matched that intensity. “
The archipelago has been aiming for it for years.
They rely on the midday profits of a number of holdover players who have seen Matthew Barzal flourish as a superstar by adopting a lunch-pile mentality. Pega and veteran defender Andy Green were added in February. Over time, the Islanders have become a bit more than the sum of their parts and the series wins against Florida, Washington and Philadelphia this summer were worth it.
“When you are coaching [against] A Barry Trotsy you have to be ready for a full minute minute fight, ”Cooper said.
“Game 1 has always been an interesting game for me because you can do as much video as you can, you can do as much homework and everything as a team, but not until you get a sense of how the lines are playing, how they match each other and the video camera.” Watch the game from 10 feet off the ice it’s completely different.
“And especially now in this situation … the staff is different and I think the mentality of the two teams is different.”
The first one to four wins could play for the Stanley Cup.