You’ve got to hand it to Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper. The man is doing his very best to stage manage his team ahead of their Game 5 performance against the New York Rangers. But in his efforts to take the pressure off starting goalie Ben Bishop, he’s painted a target on another important Lightning player.
Bishop will feel the white-hot Broadway spotlight on Sunday when he gets the start again for the Lightning, after surrendering five goals in each of his last two games against the Rangers.
But now, thanks to Cooper’s pre-game comments, Bishop will share the glare of the spotlight with Ryan Callahan.
Cooper told reporters ahead of Game 5 that he expects Callahan to break his scoring slump and pot one against his old team on Sunday.
“Tonight’s the night he’s going to score,” Cooper said.
No pressure, right?
Status: Tampa Bay Lightning center.
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 198 pounds
DOB: August 13, 1993 In: Gaspe, Que. Read more
He lines up on the blueline, but make no mistake about it: Keith Yandle’s job is to score points.
He’s been doing exactly that for the Blueshirts lately, fulfilling the high expectations that came with him when he was acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline. GM of the Year candidate Glen Sather paid a hefty price for Yandle in the form of two prospects and first- and second-round picks, but that deal is paying off in this third round of the playoffs.
Yandle scored a goal and added two assists in the Rangers’ 5-1 win against the Lightning on Friday, adding to an already impressive point streak. The 28-year-old now has a goal and five points in his last two games and nine points overall in the playoffs. That’s decent in itself, but the fact he’s scoring now is what matters most.
Rick Nash was Mr. Popular before Game 4 of the Rangers-Lightning series on Friday, after he organized a Rangers team outing to see the premiere of ‘Entourage.’
But after 60 minutes of play, Henrik Lundqvist was the big man in Florida – the Vinny Chase, in Entourage parlance – thanks to his stellar netminding performance against Tampa Bay.
Lundqvist was all-world on Friday, stopping 38 shots, including 18 during a hard Tampa press in the second period to secure the win.
Rick Nash (remember him?) found his legs and his scoring touch early Saturday, blasting through the Tampa Bay defense to score on a tremendous individual effort in the first period.
Nash took a Kevin Hayes pass in the neutral zone, slipped past Mark Barberio and outskated a backchecking Cedric Paquette to open up some space on his way to the net. Then he cut across the goalmouth and put the puck in between the post and Ben Bishop’s foot.
Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman, Anaheim’s Bob Murray and the New York Rangers’ Glen Sather have been named finalists for the NHL’s General Manager of the Year Award.
Not surprisingly, all three GMs are still watching their squads in the Stanley Cup playoffs, after tremendous regular seasons.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle will be watching Friday’s Game 4 from the sidelines following a hit he took in Game 3 from New York Rangers center Derek Stepan.
Carle, who has suited up in each of the Lightning’s post-season games during their current run, left Game 3 following the hit from Stepan and did not return to action Wednesday night. In total, Carle skated 1:36 before he was said to be out with an undisclosed injury. Now, heading into Game 4, it appears that he could be out for longer than Tampa Bay would have hoped. Read more
As part of Tampa Bay’s deadly “Triplets” line with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, right winger Nikita Kucherov has enjoyed a breakout season. But some pretty impressive perseverance went into making the young Russian the player he is today, one capable of fooling Henrik Lundqvist on this game-winning shot: