Islanders: The good, bad, and ugly of facing the Tampa Bay Lightning
Plenty of talent
While they may not have Stamkos anymore, the Lightning are a very talented team.
Both Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov have double-digit points with 18 and 16 respectively. Defenseman Victor Hedman and forward Ondrej Palat aren’t far off with nine points each.
Their blue line is staked with good players from Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev, and Kevin Shattenkirk making up their three pairs. And we already know about the quality they have between the pipes with Vasilevskiy.
Their bottom six is staffed with guys like Yanni Gourde who may have had a down year in the regular season but he’s still a guy to be worried about. Guys like Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman may not be as talented as Gourde but are great depth players that have chipped in with a combined ten points in the postseason. Not to mention fourth-liner Pat Maroon who is coming off a Stanley Cup win with St Louis last season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a staked team.
Been there done that
Since 2011, the Tampa Bay Lightning have gone to the Conference Finals four times. In those four attempts, they’ve succeeded only once, beating the Rangers in seven games back in 2015. This is their fifth time in the top two of the East in ten years.
It probably should have been six years if not for a shocking sweep in the opening round of the playoffs at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets last year.
This Lightning team has a ton of experience going this late into the postseason. That’s not the case for the New York Islanders.
As a franchise, the Islanders haven’t been to the Eastern Conference finals since 1993. Some of their guys have been there before. Guys with rings like Leddy and Boychuk. Even guys who don’t have rings like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Derick Brassard. But it doesn’t compare to the Lightning who’ve been there before (multiple times) as a collective.