The New York Islanders had lady luck on their side.
By all accounts, the New York Islanders blew away their competition in their second round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But after some sober reflection, the win can be chalked up to some good ole fashioned luck.
Game one finished with a score of 5-3 for the visiting Islanders. By that margin alone the boys from Brooklyn can rejoice. The Islanders got the series split and they were able to get some pucks past Vezina finalist Ben Bishop.
Ask coach Jack Capuano before the game what he’d say to a 5-3 victory away from home in game one. The answer would be a resounding: “It’s a big win.” (It’s his favorite thing to say). Just don’t tell him he’s going to take a puck to the face.
But, start peeling back that scoreline however and a different story starts to emerge. One that isn’t that flattering going into game two.
Brooklyn Beatdown That Never Happened
The sense after the game from some pundits was that the New York Islanders controlled the outcome of the game. Their fourth line did the damage it needed to do and their depth forwards put the puck in the net.
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Those two statements are in-and-of-themselves true. The fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck were responsible for over 30% of all the Islanders 30 hits in the game. But the Islanders were still out-hit by a healthy 33-29 margin.
Shane Prince had a two-goal night and captain John Tavares had another two-point night with a goal and an assist on Travis Hamonic’s opening goal. Even though the Isles were outshot 36-22.
Bishop Has a Terrible Game 1
At 5:44 of the first period Hamonic floated a seemingly harmless shot towards the net that somehow found a hole trough the 6′ 7″ 216lbs frame of Bolts goaltender, Ben Bishop. It’s not the type of goal you’d expect to be scored against a Vezina trophy finalist. The score was now 1-1.
Following came two unanswered goals from Shane Prince. The former Ottawa Senator acquired at the trade deadline found himself all alone in front of the Bishop for his first. It’s hard to fault Bishop when his defense lets him down, but Bishop still managed to get a piece of it. The score is now 2-1 Isles.
To make it 3-1 Prince is again left unmarked, this time by the faceoff circle and beats Bishop top shelf glove side. When you look at Bishop’s positioning you’ll notice all of that blue paint in front of him. Bishop is well in his crease. With his frame moving an inch or so forward would have cut the angle for Prince’s second.
On the fourth goal in 13 shots, Bishop was once again guilty of sitting too deep in his crease. John Tavares comes racing down the wing on an Islanders power-play and lets a wrist shot go just before the faceoff dot. His shot beats Bishop short-side top shelf.
A goaltender of Bishop’s calibre should be routinely stopping shots like this one. Much like Prince’s second goal Bishop is too deep in his net. Once Bishop places himself in the butterfly he’s just at the edge of his crease. Again, an inch or so towards the shooter would have nullified the angled and stopped the shot.
Stopping those two shots goes a long way to keeping Tampa Bay in the game. With everything else remaining the same up to that point and the score would have been 2-1 for the Islanders.
Against the Run of Play
Bishop’s uncharacteristic play masked a game in which the Lightning was the better team from puck drop.
A graph of both teams 5v5 adjusted Corsi reflects that point. Hamonic’s tieing goal game very much against the run of play, where Tampa was clearly dominant.
For the remainder of the opening frame both teams flatlined as they both dealt with the aftermath of the Cizikas hit on Erik Condra. But as the game progressed Tampa asserted its control.
Again, were it not for the shaky performance from Ben Bishop the scoreline after 60 minutes would have looked entirely different.
Game two on Saturday afternoon will not be a repeat of what the Islanders faced in game one. Ben Bishop will have the opportunity to rebound and show exactly why he is a Vezina finalist. With a confident Bishop Tampa Bay is an entirely different team.
The Islanders have the all important split from the opening two games, but going back to the Barclay’s Centre with a 2-0 series lead will be highly unlikely.