It’s hard to play a perfect game on the road in the playoffs, but the Islanders pretty much came as close as possible in Game 1 of the semi-finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They won 2-1 and only gave up a goal when the Lightning had a 6-on-4 power play after pulling their goalie late in the third.
Heading into Game 2, the Isles need to replicate the exact plan that they did in Game 1. In the first game of the series, the Isles did a great job of limiting chances from the Lighting’s big guys.
Through the first 2.5 periods, they held Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov to just one shot on goal. Granted, the 6-on-4 ended that streak but the trio still somehow only finished with four shots for the game. A defensive master class from Barry Trotz
Also, they didn’t give the Lightning anything off the rush. No that’s not hyperbole they literally were 9-0 in terms of chances on the rush. Mike Kelly has this lovely clip of all the Isles rush chances in the second period alone.
It was a clinic from Barry Trotz on Sunday and if the Isles want to go up 2-0 in the series, they should do exactly this again. At 5v5, against one of the more powerful offenses in the league, the Islanders had 52.9% of the High Danger Chances For.
What they did so well was keeping the Lightning to the outside and not giving them anything in the slot. We’ve said it multiple times on the pods or on the site but this team can’t compete with Tampa in a run-and-gun style.
They need to play their game and try to keep it in these low-scoring affairs. With Semyon Varlamov’s play in net, the Isles should continue to be in every game. It’s just a matter of Andrei Vasilevskiy and if he gives the Isles a soft one as he did against Ryan Pulock.
Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!
The Isles need to capitalize on everything the Lightning give them and try to limit the power play chances for Tampa. If they do that again in Game 2, they’ll be in good shape. Of course, all of this is a lot easier said than done. It should be a fun one tonight in Tampa.