Something is definitely wrong in Tampa Bay. The Lightning lost their second game of the series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and this time, it wasn’t a close one. The guests demolished the No.1 team from the regular part of the season with 5-1.
After the game, Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated that this is a serious position for his team and that they don’t have room for any more mistakes.
“Things just happen so fast. Alarms are going off. This is a five-alarm fire,” Cooper said, stressing out that he still believes in his boys, despite being in an awfully tough position.
“One thing I do know about being with this group is, they find a way.”
The Lightning are unrecognizable in this series, without their usual offensive flow, and any confidence on the ice.
It is understandable to feel pressure after a fantastic regular part season they had, but a huge title contender like themselves have to find a way out, and to claw back into the series.
For now, that is not likely, and it seems that the frustration is overwhelming the Presidents trophy winner.
A clear example of that, are numerous penalties they got in the late part of Game 2 against the Blue Jackets.
The NHL’s leader in points Nikita Kucherov received a game misconduct and a major penalty after his vicious hit on Markus Nutivaara, Blue Jackets’ defenseman.
There is no doubt that the Russian forward will get a serious fine because of this, and a suspension which might make him unavailable for the rest of the series. And likely the playoffs if that happens.
Without him, the already pale Lightning will be more vulnerable, and even though he didn’t record a point in the opening two contest, Kucherov is still a pivotal figure of the team.
— Hockey Daily #StickTogether (@HockeyDaily365) April 13, 2019
According to the latest information, several sources from inside the league, it appears that the player could get a three-game suspension, which would probably be a lethal blow to team’s Stanley Cup ambitions.
Tampa Bay’s problems are only making it easier for the relaxed Blue Jackets to play. The team from Ohio was written off before this series, as most of the fans predicted a quick sweep of the Lightning.
Now, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it the other way around.
There is also another thing which most of the fans forget. It isn’t all because of Tampa’s bad performances. Columbus has been playing at a very high level, and that needs to be acknowledged. Sergei Bobrovsky is doing wonders in front of the goal, and right now, he is the best goalie in the playoffs without a doubt.
Dan Girardi spoke about that, saying that Blue Jackets really played good in the opening two contests.
“We have to give them some credit. They’ve been playing two hard games, two 60-minute games. It seems like when we do make a mistake, they’re making us pay for it.”
With a little bit of luck in the first game, and an excellent start in the second, where they had a 0-2 lead after the opening period, the whole situation just clicked for John Tortorella’s crew.
The factor of underestimating was surely involved here. Columbus hasn’t beat Tampa since 14th of January 2017. The first two games of the season played at Amalie Arena ended with two massive triumphs of the Lightning, 8-2 and 4-0, which probably affected a little bit on their approach when coming into this matchup.
Coach Cooper believes that this is the test his boys need to pass in order to become the champions. The 51-year old admitted that sometimes things like these need to happen, to toughen up the team.
“Have we faced a ton of adversity this year? We probably haven’t. Now we’ve got some adversity. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes you have to go through stuff like this.”
The next game will be played at Nationwide Arena, this Sunday night, at 7 pm ET.