Welcome back to Brooklyn,
a great place to visit, unless you're Ben Bishop that is..
Series tied 1-1
I - NYI 5; TBL 3
II - TBL 4; NYI 1
III - @BROOKLYN
New York Islanders: The series is now a best of five, with Flatbush potentially owning the home ice edge.
If you recall, I said pay no mind to Game One. I will side with a team coming off a 3-day layoff over a team coming off a 6-day layoff every time.
That's exactly what happened. Tampa spent two and a half periods shaking off rust before getting their game skates under them. By then, it was too late, particularly against an Islanders team still high from an overtime series clinching victory over the Florida Panthers.
Inactivity and rust aside, it's worth noting the Islanders spent the better part of said two and a half periods pounding the Bolts into submission. But that said, the series started in earnest with Game Two, when unfortunately, the Islanders looked listless after quickly falling behind in the 1st period, en route to a 4-1 loss.
For the moment, though, the Islanders potentially stealing home ice advantage with their Game One win in Tampa should not go understated. Heading into Game Three, the trick now is to seize upon their gained advantage with nothing short of victory in Brooklyn.
Easier said than done... I know.
Tampa Bay Lightning
New York Islanders
Special Teams: Waiting for the dam to burst.
Hey, if both teams insist on committing so many damn penalties, then the team which scores most with the man advantage wins the series. To date, the Bolts are a mere 1 for 7, while the Islanders are just a fraction better with a 2 for 9 rate. I say both are flirting with disaster. Something is eventually gonna give like a weakening dam.
Beyond the Mask: Coach's Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Beyond the bench is more like it...
The Tampa Bay Lightning sent a jolt through the Islanders system in Game Two. With the Triplets Line back in place, the Bolts were quicker, and possessed the puck for an inordinate amount of time by staying in open ice, and not allowing themselves to get pinned along the boards.
The Islanders trailed 2-0 by 11:55 of the 1st period, and the Lightning never looked back en route to a 4-1 series tying victory. Tampa out-shot the Islanders 31-20, limiting the Islanders to five shots on goal in the 2nd period, then just three shots on goal in the 3rd.
Thomas Greiss was the hard luck loser, allowing six goals against 41 shots on net.
Back on March 24 in Tampa, the Islanders suffered through a 7-4 drubbing against the Bolts. That game was tied at four until 10:09 of the 3rd period, when things fell apart for the Isles like wet toilet paper. Coach Jack Capuano stuck with Thomas Greiss, and did not pull his goalie after allowing the go-ahead goal, then another within 23-seconds of each other.
On Tuesday, the Islanders goalie knows he's entering a critical Game Three with the full confidence of his coach, and more importantly, that of his team mates.
Then there's Ben Bishop, coach Jon Cooper, and the Lightning...
Bishop is no stranger to New York City's fan fervor during playoff time, having successfully experienced their passion last season at Madison Square Garden during the Eastern Conference finals against the Rangers.
But, as is the case with most out-of-towners, it wasn't until April 4th this year, that Bishop rudely discovered Brooklyn and Manhattan are actually worlds apart. During his lone regular season visit to Barclays Center, Bishop allowed all five Islanders goals on only 23 shots on net, and was consequently relieved of his duties just 4:28 into the 3rd period by coach Jon Cooper.
Ben Bishop now gets a chance to erase his own chalk outline left at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush.
Or does he?
Coach Jon Cooper again pulled Ben Bishop midway through the 2nd period of Game One after allowing four goals on just 13 shots on net - and that happened in Tampa. Back-up goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy wound up finishing the game. He faced eight shots and did not allow a goal.
One thing has become very clear - Jack Capuano has far more confidence in goalie Thomas Greiss, than Jon Cooper has in Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. That inevitably translates onto the ice.
I have no doubt Jon Cooper will start Ben Bishop in Game Three. But if Tampa's goalie didn't already learn back in April, he's surely going to understand the meaning of playing in city traffic now.
The Islanders also want the crowd factoring in games Three and Four if at all possible, and big early hits are a great way to get them started. Establishing a physical presence in front of the net, and scoring tough goals is another. The Islanders hammered Tampa 38 hits to 24 during that 5-2 victory over Tampa back on April 4th, then absolutely pounded them into the boards again in Game One.
Welcome back to Brooklyn, Ben, a great place to visit ... for some. Apparently for others, not so much.