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Old 08-08-2020, 10:21 PM
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Default NHL Postseason Round Robin Game Night: 8-8-20 Flyers v Lightning






Strange night leaves Lightning in limbo on precipice of the knockout rounds.

PHI-4
TB-1


Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the loss. You had a deflection goal, and 2-on-1, and a cross ice one-timer for the three goals. Nothing he could've done with them beyond the fact that it'd have been nice for him to get a situational save on that first goal. Hard to blame him for it, but that first goal in any postseason contest changes the complexion of the game so much.

First Period
7:40 PHI Aube-Kubel (1), (Gostisbehere, Grant)
14:00 PHI Aube-Kubel (2), (Couturier, Farabee)

Second Period
5:21 TB Johnson (2), (Killorn, Point)(PP)
14:22 PHI Farabee (1), (Gostisbehere, Couturier)

Third Period
18:40 PHI Pitlick (1), (Laughton)

Strange night. Scary night given the injury to Hedman and the uncertainty surrounding it. The Lightning obviously had a terrible First Period getting outscored 2-0, outshot 20-6, and losing their Norris Trophy caliber defenseman to an apparent ankle injury. Once they regrouped out of the First Intermission, though, I thought they played pretty well, ultimately outshooting Philly 18-10 in the last 40 minutes and probably deserving more than they got for their efforts. So, effort-wise, were it not for the specter of the Hedman injury, I wouldn't be too down on the team for the way they played tonight. In a way, this balanced out the Washington game where I thought they got away with a bit of larceny with how bad they looked the last 30 or so minutes of that contest. A lot of Lightning fans are probably ready to go jump off the Skyway tonight, but I would caution to calm down, reflect on the fact the team did play better than the score indicates, and maybe we can sneak a witch doctor into the bubble to make Hedman's ankle ok. Seriously, even within that terrible First Period, they could've easily had three goals between Kucherov hitting a post and Kucherov and Killorn both getting stoned on breakaways.

So, the Lightning are looking at Toronto or Columbus in the first round now. And, they may be facing it down without their two franchise cornerstones in Hedman and Stamkos. This is going to be strange. Do I have a preference? First, tell me how long Hedman's going to be down for the count. Second, tell me the same for Zach Werenski for Columbus. Because, at the end of the day, no team weathers losing a true #1 caliber defenseman all that well. And that's why Lightning fans have to be feeling pretty down tonight watching Hedman's frustrated reaction as he went off to the locker room. We hope for some sort of sprain and not a break and that Hedman can get back, if not for Game One, at least at some point in the series when he can still influence the outcome.

Other observations from the Round Robin: I like the depth of the team at forward. I think the bottom line guys have played pretty well, especially the grinders. Point didn't have his best night tonight, but the first two games looked like the best player on the ice. Johnson, Gourde, and even Killorn have had good moments. If they can get Stamkos back at some point they'll be that much more formidable and I've liked their physicality and forechecking. They look so much more like a legit playoff-style team this year, eyeball test.

Defense is a different matter, especially with Hedman potentially out. McDonagh's been his usual excellent self and Cernak's been a horse at both ends of the rink. Beyond those three it gets progressively more dicey. Sergachev will do 7,8,9 pretty decent things and then make one play that makes you wince and reach for the Mylanta. Bogosian, in the two games he played, got himself in decent position more often than not and the effort level is there, but he just can't quite seem to put a bow on certain plays. And Rutta is Rutta, which leaves us with the case of Kevin Shattenkirk who has been the hottest of hot trash in the Round Robin, including a bad step up that led to Philly's second goal tonight. If you ask me who needs to step up on the Lightning blueline if Hedman's injury is significant, yes lefties like McDonagh and Sergachev obviously eat those minutes, but you can't construct two good pairs with only three guys. Shattenkirk's got to step up and play better until (knock on wood) Hedman comes back, and he's just been piss poor with his positioning and decision-making thus far.

Vasilevskiy? Oddly enough tonight was probably his steadiest game, despite it being his worst stat line. He didn't have any howlers like in the first two games. He's been another odd case, because positionally and tracking the puck I think he's looked pretty good, and yet he's had those leaky goals against Washington and Boston. He's another guy, if Hedman's out, that obviously needs to step up. A hot goaltender is always the great equalizer in this sport.

Mitchell Stephens had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:31 and was 22% on 9 draws. Faceoffs aside, I thought he played really well tonight. Maybe his best game of the Round Robin. He doesn't have that plus speed, but he manages to get in on the forecheck and the chances seem to find him. Would like to see him work on his shot a little more to turn some of those chances into production and help himself stick in the bigs for good. He's been a pleasant surprise in the restart.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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