Had a preview for the series set to come out but I missed the deadline. That’s the amateur sports blog game for ya, zero repercussions for deciding that a 3 hour taste testing of the new Bud Light Orange and Lime is in order prior to Game 1. I’d publish it but it seems superfluous at this point. As a man of the masses though if I get 2 comments clamoring for it your will shall be carried out. Now, shall we begin?
Game 3 takeaways:
Lightning: First thing first, thank fucking god Jon Cooper switched up the lines. I was calling for this long ago during the Devils series and Cooper wisely didn’t budge, that’s why he should’ve been a Jack Adams award finalists and I’m a armchair general crushing Bud Light Orange. That being said, my clamoring for change wasn’t necessarily out of line as it centered on one man, J.T. Miller. Since the deadline Miller had scored the most goals of any player moved at the deadline, and in terms of value has meant much more to the Lightning than McDounough who was the key piece of Yzerman’s masterstroke. Since the playoffs though he has had more in common with your out of work uncle, who could definitely get a job but just doesn’t seem to have any desire to, than one of the hottest forwards in the NHL deserving of top line minutes. Miller has looked lazy, been utterly careless with the puck, weak on his checks, and has only 7 points despite playing next to two of the most talented snipers in the league. Bottom line his play has been pitiful and Stammer and Kucherov needed someone with a higher T count beside them. Enter Odrej Palat whose been arguably the best forward on the Lightning this post season whose complete game of speed, checking, and facilitating seemed to jump start the Bolts top line. Demoting J.T. to the third line and promoting Yanni Gourde to the second has appeared to be the right call as well. Gourde has spent many minutes with Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point so the familiarity is there and he matches their style of tireless effort mixed with scoring ability, Gourde scored 25 goals this season. This recipe worked in Game 3 and if the Lightning hope to even the series tonight they’ll need a similar effort throughout their lines.
On the opposing bench the boys in Communist red, so unpatriotic, seemed to catch whatever affliction the Lightning were suffering from in Games 1 and 2. Effort throughout their lineup seemed lacking, they were careless in their own zone, and they left goaltender Braden Holtby high and dry too many times. It could be said honestly of their entire line up but Mike Millbury’s spent all of his air time between periods lambasting Brooks Orpik’s effort as he lost puck battles, turned it over in his own zone, and resembled your dog after it gets old and walks aren’t fun for him anymore. Jeremy Roenick hopped on the pile as well characterizing the Capitals effort as more of what we’ve seen in the past: believing they can win just by showing up and letting the series get away from them. I think this is a bit of an overreaction as it was just one game, but this really does put into perspective how many times we’ve seen this movie before as one of the more respected analysts in the game felt the need to go on a full tirade criticizing this team. I believe it was just an off game, but the Capitals cannot continue to play this way and expect to win with the Lightning righting the ship.
Game 4 Keys:
Lightning: Keep moving. The Lightning are at their best when they’re skating and hustling to every puck. This effort is the fuel for every aspect of the Lightning’s game, it causes turnovers which are turned into chances, draws penalties creating opportunities for the white hot power play, puts the other team on their back foot, and prevents opportunities within their own zone. Another high intensity effort from the skaters combined with a few key saves from Vasilevskiy and the Bolts should be heading home with the series tied up.
Capitals: Use your size. From a skill standpoint these teams are almost dead even but their difference comes in their secondary qualities. For the Capitals this comes in their physicality and distinct size advantage up front. The Lightning’s tallest forwards are just 6’1 whereas the Capitals boast 8 forwards over 6’2. They need to leverage their size to win puck battles and keep the Lightning scorers out of the dirty areas giving Hotlby a clean looks at the shots he faces. Too often the Capitals were beaten to 50-50 pucks by the smaller Lightning in Game 3 and if they want to prevent a similar outcome they need to make the Bolts pay and tire them out.
That’s right, while everyone has been distracted by the POTUS’ moves in the Iran deal, Lackdaddy’s sources have been whispering that it is actually just an elaborate smokescreen. That’s right our fearless, feckless, orange leader is actually a die hard Caps fan but has been trying to take the pressure off the team. Notice how no one is saying its the Caps year, the uninformed in the industry would say that this is due to 13 years of crushing playoff disappointment, the real know this is because Trump wants it this way. So far he’s been able to stay away, keep the pressure off the team, masterfully manipulating from the shadows but with possibly only 2 home games remaining he might find it hard to stay away. If Trump continues to hold the course the Caps will avoid the added pressure. If Trump is in Capital One Arena later tonight, the fat lady might as well be singing the National Anthem for the Caps as there will absolutely be no way they’ll be able to handle the leviathan that is Donald J. Trump. Under these circumstances Mr. President I implore, that means ask if you’re reading this Mr. President, to follow your gut and not the cucks surrounding you in the oval office and be there tonight to cheer your Capitals on and be available to answer questions about Barry Trotz’s job security after their eventual loss. Mr. President the fate of Thunder Bay is in your minuscule hands.