Tampa Bay’s luck runs out.
Toronto Wins the Series 4-2
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed two goals on 22 shots for the loss. I think he reclaimed a lot of his dignity in the past couple of games after a rough start to the series and I expect him to train like a demon in the offseason to come back even stronger.
13:47 TOR Matthews (5), (Brodie)
4:11 TB Stamkos (2), (Raddysh, Cirelli)
4:36 TOR Tavares (4), (Knies, Rielly)
Vasilevskiy was the game’s third star.
This is why you can’t let games slip away from you the way the Lightning allowed them to in Game Three and especially in Game Four. You put yourself in a position where a lucky goaltender and a bad bounce or two can knock you out of the tournament. In tonight’s case, Samsonov had a horseshoe up his behind all game long and Tavares’ winning goal went in off Darren Raddysh’s skate. That’s hockey… and that’s why you’ve got to finish games off when you have the opportunity to so you don’t put yourself in that position. There’s going to be a temptation to blame this on the refs for the waved off goal in Game Three and tonight’s willfully ignored high sticking call at the end of the Third Period. I get it. But you don’t get to play that card with a straight face when you blew a three goal lead in the Third Period of Game Four. You just don’t.
I am weirdly placid and optimistic for the future after this series. You lost Ryan McDonagh in the offseason. You had Victor Hedman probably break his ribs in Game One and you lost Erik Cernak go out for the whole series from a dirty hit also in Game One. You also probably had Brayden Point at less than 100% after his car crash collision and, altogether, a situation where you were giving more minutes to some lower line/pair guys on this team who frankly are on the last legs of their career and probably will retire this summer. And with all of that… the Lightning were still by far and away the better team for the bulk of this series. In terms of possession and scoring chances and battle level, they were the better team. Moments of puck management cost them. Uncharacteristically. Poor goaltending at times cost them. Again, uncharacteristically. But athletically, they took it to a younger and very talented Toronto team throughout this series in a way I really wasn’t expecting going into the series.
There’s going to be a lot of people in the hockey media who want to throw dirt on the Lightning’s casket this summer, but I’m here to tell you that’s foolish. The biggest piece they may lose this summer because of the cap in Alex Killorn and they’ll have a few holes to plug after some retirements, I think. But, you get a long offseason for the first time in forever for the core players of this team to rest and recuperate physically and mentally. And, completely unnoticed by the hockey media, the Syracuse Crunch are a really good team poised to potentially get a lot of good experience in the Calder Cup playoffs in the coming weeks and they’ve already paid off with two guys who look like keepers on RHD between Raddysh and Perbix. I get why it’s easy to write off the Lightning’s pipe line because they’ve dealt so many picks off for playoff rentals, but the Crunch have won a bunch of games not by accident. Some of those pups aren’t pups (Raddysh looks like he’s 38) and even the ones that are have shown they have some bite. I’m optimistic to see a rejuvenated core of this team playing with a little more youthful athleticism and energy around them next season. Because I think there’s a third act for this generation of Lightning players, and I think it could start as soon as next year.
Darren Raddysh had a helper and was -1 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 26:21 of ice time. Buzzard’s luck on the GWG, but take a step back and think it over. He played the second most minutes of any player on the team (Sergachev had a spot more) and assisted on Stamkos’ tying goal and looked like he belonged playing playoff hockey against one of the best offensive teams in the league. And he’s the tip of the iceberg. There’s more guys like Raddysh down in Syracuse waiting for their shot. I’m excited for his future and for theirs.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.