Beyond The Benches

Tampa Bay’s Playoff Run In Jeopardy

Losing the first two games of your playoff series puts you in quite the hole. Add in the fact that those two games were at home and your season hinges on winning at least one game at your opponent’s arena. The second-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning have done just this, dropping the first two games at home in their playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens. Game 3 of the series was played in Montreal on Sunday night and the Lightning fell again to Montreal 3-2. If the Lightning have any hopes of making a run deep into the playoffs, they will need a better performance.

Injuries have plagued Tampa Bay the entire season. Marksman, Steven Stamkos missed time with a broken leg, but more recently Rookie of The Year candidate, Ondrej Palat, and goalie Ben Bishop found themselves missing games. Palat, the team leader in points this season, left Game 1 with an upper body injury after colliding with Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. Bishop hasn’t played since injuring his left elbow against the Maple Leafs earlier in April. The 6-foot-7 inch Bishop was phenomenal in net this season, earning 37 victories and owning a .924 save percentage. The loss of Bishop has forced Tampa Bay to turn to the seldom used Anders Lindback. Linback held his own in 5-4 overtime loss in Game 1 but was lit up in Game 2, eventually getting pulled in favor of Kristers Gudlevskis.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper will not let injuries become a valid excuse as to why Tampa Bay has not won yet.

In a press conference last Thursday Cooper addressed the media and spoke to the challenges the team will face.

“Adversity … that word went out the door quite some time ago. Don’t even use it anymore, we just think it’s the norm. It’s like welcome to Tuesday,” Cooper said.

Cooper would go on to give credit to Montreal but felt his own team was capable of playing much better.

Palat’s scoring will be missed but the Lightning’s success hinged a lot more on Ben Bishop this season. The scoring can be replicated by other players but if the Lightning hope to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they will need Linback and Gudlevskis to step up until Bishop returns.

Tampa Bay’s road to “The Cup” has already proven difficult, Game 4 will test the Lightning and either reveal what they are capable of or further prove their injuries are too much to overcome this year.

 

 

Andrew Connolly is a soon to be graduate of Emmanuel College. He currently lives in Boston and is an avid fan of the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and Red Sox. A large amount of his time is dedicated to intramural basketball and when he’s not in the gym he can be found fine tuning the details of his eventual reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.