Tag Archives: 2011 Western Conference Final

Take Five: Five takeaways from Game 1 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Final

It seems everybody’s scoring points these days as the Tampa Bay Lightning won, 8-2, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Final matchup with the New York Islanders on Monday.

Seriously, 11 different Lightning players had at least a point in Monday night’s series opener, while Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov each had five points in the victorious effort.

Tampa carries a, 1-0, series lead heading into Game 2 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS). Here’s five takeaways for the next game, as well as the series as a whole.

1. Can the Islanders actually contain Tampa’s offense?

Thomas Greiss allowed three goals on nine shots against in the first 10:46 of the game before being replaced by Semyon Varlamov, but that wasn’t the only reason why New York is behind, 1-0, in the series.

Neither the Columbus Blue Jackets, nor the Boston Bruins were able to limit the Lightning’s attacking zone time and possession, which was not only evident by the fact that each of their series matchups with Tampa only lasted five games– the scoreboard reflected it too.

At any point in time, the Bolts can strike fast and amass goals in bunches (as exhibited by their three goals in the first 10:46 of Monday’s game, plus the other five goals they scored afterward).

It’s that momentum swing that the Islanders (or any team that may face the Lightning if Tampa advances to the Stanley Cup Final) will have to be wary about and eliminate at all costs.

Simply put, the Lightning play with a surge in electricity.

2. Inconsistent shots for the Isles

Tampa outshot New York, 10-6, in the first period and finished the second period with an, 18-17, advantage before going on to finish the game with a, 34-24, total shots on goal advantage.

The Lightning went 58:53 without missing the net in Game 1. The only shot attempt that did not go on net for the Bolts came with 67 seconds left in the game off of Cedric Paquette’s stick blade.

Meanwhile, the Islanders– a team primarily built on a defense-first game plan– failed to record at least 30 shots on goal for the second-straight game after amassing 26 shots on net against the Philadelphia Flyers in their, 4-0, win in Game 7 of their Second Round matchup.

New York only allowed 16 shots against that night too.

In their, 5-4, double overtime loss to the Flyers in Game 6, the Islanders recorded 53 shots on goal and allowed 31 shots against.

Game 5 against Philadelphia resulted in a, 4-3, loss in overtime, while shots on goal were even at 32 aside.

The Islanders were outshot, 38-33, in Game 4, but won, 3-2. New York had a, 29-27, advantage in their, 3-1, win in Game 3, as well as a, 34-31, advantage in their, 4-3, overtime loss in Game 2.

Both teams had 29 shots on goal in New York’s, 4-0, win in Game 1 of their Second Round series with Philadelphia.

Without breaking down the quality of their shots for and shots against, a generalized remedy for the Islanders would be to get more pucks on net (duh) and prevent the Lightning from hitting the twine or whichever goaltender Barry Trotz starts in Game 2 against the Bolts.

3. Followup question, who should start in net for New York?

It’s not like Greiss had really made consecutive starts in the postseason before doing just that from Game 7 against Philadelphia on Saturday to Game 1 against Tampa Bay on Monday.

His 2-2 record in four games doesn’t really speak for his 2.02 goals against average and .929 save percentage in the 2020 postseason.

Plus he got most of the night off, so he should still be fresh enough, in theory.

Meanwhile, Varlamov’s decent 9-4 record in 15 games this postseason stands out on its own, but his goals against average is on the rise as of his last two outings to a 2.22, while his save percentage has dropped to a .913.

Still, the Islanders goaltenders have combined for three shutouts this postseason (Varlamov has two, Greiss has one), which are three more shutouts than what Andrei Vasilevskiy has so far (zero, in case that wasn’t clear).

As bad as Greiss’ .667 SV% in Game 1 sounds, Varlamov still allowed five goals against after Greiss gave up the first three in the, 8-2, loss, so Varlamov’s .800 SV% in Game 1 isn’t ideal either.

If anything, Trotz will have to adjust his matchups to curb the speed of Tampa’s rush and instruct his players on getting in passing and shooting lanes to ease the high danger workload of whichever goaltender he opts for in Game 2.

4. Just how many franchise records will Tampa…

In case you haven’t heard by now, the Lightning are good.

So good, in fact, they tied, broke and set some franchise records in Game 1, including:

— The most assists in a playoff year by a Lightning player (Kucherov had four assists in Game 1 to break Martin St. Louis’ previous mark of 15 helpers in 2004, and set the new franchise record with 16 in 2020).

— The first players in franchise history to record five points in a playoff game (Point had two goals and three assists, while Kucherov had one goal and four assists).

— Tampa’s eight goals matched their franchise record for the most goals in a playoff game (the Lightning had eight in what was also an, 8-2, win in Game 5 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Penguins).

Oh and the Bolts improved to 5-0 in their last five playoff games going back to Game 2 against Boston in the Second Round, while outscoring their opponents by a combined, 25-9, margin in the process.

Plus, Point and Kucherov are the second pair of teammates to each record five or more points in a Conference Finals game (since 1982).

Paul Coffey had one goal and five assists (six points), while Jari Kurri had three goals and two assists (five points) in Game 5 of the 1985 Clarence Campbell Conference Final with the Oilers.

5. Will the Lightning buck the trend?

In the last decade or so, the team that plays a longer Conference Final than their opponent in the Stanley Cup Final usually wins the Cup.

It happened just as recent as last year, when the Bruins swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final and had 10 days off before the 2019 Stanley Cup Final began.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues beat the San Jose Sharks in six games in the 2019 Western Conference Final and only had five days between the third and fourth round of the postseason.

The Blues, of course, won the Cup in seven games.

In terms of significant time off between one series to the next, the Edmonton Oilers had eight days off after beating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in five games in the 2006 Western Conference Final, then lost in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the Hurricanes who had just come off of a seven-game series win against the Buffalo Sabres in the 2006 Eastern Conference Final.

The aforementioned Mighty Ducks had 10 days off after sweeping the Minnesota Wild in the 2003 Western Conference Final, then lost to the New Jersey Devils in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final in seven games after New Jersey had just three days off between their seven-game series win over the Ottawa Senators in the 2003 Eastern Conference Final and the Cup Final.

Obviously those few examples don’t cover the last decade, but fear not, let’s get that out of the way now…

The 2010 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final, while the Philadelphia Flyers eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the Eastern Conference Final before losing in six games to Chicago in the Final.

O.K. that one didn’t fit the trend, but in 2011, the Vancouver Canucks ousted the Sharks in five games, while the Bruins beat the Lightning in seven games, then went on to beat Vancouver in seven games in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings beat the Phoenix Coyotes in five games in the Western Conference Final, while the Devils overcame the New York Rangers in six games. Los Angeles beat New Jersey in six games to capture their first Cup in franchise history.

Wait, it happened again, didn’t it?

Well, in 2013, the Bruins swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the East, while the Blackhawks took five games to knockout the Kings in the West, then beat Boston in six games in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. A-ha! There’s one!

In 2014, the Rangers beat Montreal in six games in the Eastern Conference Final, while the Kings defeated the Blackhawks in seven games before Los Angeles won their second Cup in three years by defeating New York in five games.

In 2015, both Tampa and Chicago went all seven games in their respective Conference Finals matchups with the Rangers and Anaheim Ducks, respectively.

Chicago won their third Cup in five years in six games over the Bolts in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, though.

In 2016, the Penguins beat the Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final, while the Sharks beat the Blues in six games in the Western Conference Final.

Pittsburgh defeated San Jose in six games in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

In 2017, the Penguins edged out the Senators in seven games in the East, while the Nashville Predators beat the Ducks in six games in the West.

Pittsburgh went back-to-back as two-time defending Cup champions with their fifth title in franchise history after defeating the Predators in six games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

And, of course, back in 2018, the Washington Capitals beat the Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final, while the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Winnipeg Jets in five games in the Western Conference Final.

Washington won the Cup in five games over Vegas in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

Back in 1993, of course, the Canadiens beat the Islanders in five games in the Prince of Wales Conference Final, while Los Angeles took seven games to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Clarence Campbell Conference Final.

The Habs defeated the Kings in five games to capture the Cup in the 1993 Stanley Cup Final– what’s perhaps the most recent instance of a team amassing a week off between the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final and still winning the Cup despite all that time off.

Either that or it’s one more chance to point out that this year’s Cup will be awarded on Canadian sole, but for the 27th year in-a-row, it won’t be going to a Canadian based NHL club.

Assuming (since they won Game 1) that the Lightning go on to punch their ticket to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final in as little as four or five games and the 2020 Western Conference Final matchup between the Dallas Stars and Golden Knights goes six or seven games, then Tampa could be in trouble.

Then again, with the bubble in place and resulting lack of travel— as well as a condensed schedule due to the hopes of still having an 82-game regular season in 2020-21— the earliest the 2020 Stanley Cup Final could begin would be around Sept. 21st or 22nd, since the league already determined the Final must end by or on Oct. 4th— which would leave the Bolts with about a week off to scout their next potential opponent in person for as long as the West takes to decide their series.

For any Islanders fans that thought I forgot about them, the Edmonton Oilers had eight days off after sweeping the Minnesota North Stars in the 1984 Semifinals (the precursor to the modern Conference Finals round), while New York took down Montreal in six games and had four days off between the Semifinals and the 1984 Stanley Cup Final.

Edmonton won the series in five games in what is the Islanders’ most-recent Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Pavelski leads the way (again) as Sharks top Predators 5-1 in Game 5

By: Nick Lanciani 

UnknownJoe Pavelski picked up the game-winning goal on a two-goal night in the San Jose Sharks 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at SAP Center in Game 5 on Saturday night.

Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson had the other goals for the Sharks and Mike Fisher had the lone goal for Nashville.

Martin Jones made 24 saves on 25 shots against for a .960 SV% en route to the win, while Pekka Rinne made 23 saves on 27 shots faced for a .852 SV% before being replaced by Carter Hutton for the final three minutes of the game. Hutton allowed one goal on two shots on net in his 3:01 of ice time.

With the win, San Jose now has a 3-2 series lead over Nashville heading into Game 6 on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Sharks are one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2011. Meanwhile, the Predators fell to 0-7 at SAP Center in their all-time Stanley Cup Playoff matchups with San Jose.

Marleau kicked off the scoring at 10:47 of the first period with his 3rd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Joonas Donskoi picked up his first of two assists on the night. Marleau’s goal gave San Jose a 1-0 lead, but Mike Fisher soon answered with a game tying goal of his own less than five minutes later. Fisher found the back of the net on a backhand shot that beat Jones for his 5th goal of the postseason, assisted by James Neal (3) and Colin Wilson (8) at 15:40 of the first period.

But the game wouldn’t stay tied at 1 for long.

Joe Pavelski received a pass from Joe Thornton and fired home a slap shot behind Rinne for what would be the eventual game winning goal. Pavelski’s 7th goal of the playoffs was assisted by Thornton (5) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (5) at 17:21 of the opening frame and gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

After twenty minutes of play San Jose was leading in shots on goal (13-11), giveaways (8-6) and takeaways (5-1). Nashville led in hits (15-11) and blocked shots (12-5), while both teams split faceoff wins 11-11 and had yet to see special teams opportunities.

Just thirty-five seconds into the second period, Logan Couture found himself on a breakaway and sent one past Rinne on the backhand to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Couture’s 5th goal of the playoffs was his 7th point of the series and put him one point shy of leading in postseason scoring across the NHL with 5-8-13 totals thus far in two rounds. Donskoi picked up the assist (his fourth of the playoffs) on the goal.

Marleau, Pavelski and Couture rank 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively, in Sharks all-time playoff goal scoring and each forward had at least one goal on Saturday night.

Brenden Dillon was charged with the game’s first penalty as he was sent to the box for interference 10:31 into the 2nd period. The Predators were unable to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night and the Sharks were therefore successful on their first penalty kill of the game.

UnknownRoman Josi had the most time on ice of any player in Game 4 (49:42 TOI) and was called for a tripping minor at 19:13 of the second period after he tripped up Couture.

Nine seconds on the power play was all it took for Pavelski to find the twine for the second time of the night and his 8th goal of the postseason. Pavelski’s power play goal gave San Jose a 4-1 lead and was assisted by Marleau (4) and Thornton (6).

Ryan Johansen received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct with less than 15 seconds remaining in the second period and gave the Sharks a short power play before Joel Ward caught Paul Gaustad with a high stick and drew some blood. Ward was sent to the box with a double minor for high sticking and the Sharks and Predators would see some 4-on-4 action to end the 2nd period and begin the 3rd period.

Not much happened in the third period until Johansen tried to mix things up with Pavelski and Thornton roughed up Barret Jackman. Johansen was given a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct, while Thornton received two minutes for slashing Jackman and Mike Ribeiro ascertained a 10-minute misconduct himself at 16:01 of the third period.

Almost a minute later, Anthony Bitetto put the Sharks on a 4-on-3 power play after Bitetto tripped Nick Spaling. By then the Predators had tried just about anything and soon replaced Rinne in goal with Hutton for the last three minutes or so.

None sooner had the Predators swapped goalies than San Jose capitalized on the goalie change and Melker Karlsson squeaked one past Hutton to make it 5-1 with about 50 seconds left in the game. Chris Tierney (1) and Justin Braun (3) picked up the assists on Karlsson’s 2nd of the postseason.

The Sharks finished the night leading in shots on goal (29-25), hits (40-37), giveaways (22-17), takeaways (13-2) and blocked shots (18-16) while the Predators ended the night leading in faceoff wins (32-27). Nashville went 0/3 on the power play and San Jose went 1/3 on the man advantage after sixty minutes of play.

With the 5-1 victory on home ice in Game 5, San Jose now holds a 3-2 series lead— with a chance to eliminate Nashville from the Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs— heading to enemy territory for Game 6 on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 PM EST and the game will be televised on CNBC in the United States and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.