Lightning coach Jon Cooper is looking for more production from more lines in Game 2.
The Rangers controlled the pace for long stretches during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, but for the most part, the Lightning kept the Blueshirts big guns in check. Still, the Rangers skated away with a 1-0 series lead thanks to a rifled pass by Kevin Hayes and the fortuitously placed shin pad of Dom Moore.
Moore’s heroics in Game 1 are precisely what make the Rangers so formidable: Any of them can beat you.
Much like last year, the Rangers have had steady production throughout their lineup in their run through the playoffs. Entering Game 2, not one player has double-digit points.
Meanwhile, 18 of the Lightning’s 34 goals this postseason have come from one line, the trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, nicknamed the Triplets. Palat provided the lone Tampa goal on Saturday with a power play tally in the third period.
“If we want to advance, we’re going to need more than the Triplets to score,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after Sunday’s practice at the Garden. “Depth is a big thing. You look across the hall and they (the Rangers) haven’t scored a ton of goals in the playoffs, but they’re getting a balanced attack from a lot of guys. It’s not the Rick Nashes that have scored every single night. They’ve had other guys chip in and they’re advancing. That’s how we’re going to have to do it. We need more guys to chip in.”
Captain Steven Stamkos got going in Tampa Bay’s second round with seven points (three goals, four assists) in the final five games against the Canadiens. But the Lightning undoubtedly need more production throughout their lineup if they are to dethrone the Rangers as Eastern Conference champions.
Tampa’s top two lines were kept relatively quiet in Game 1 while their bottom two were virtually nonexistent.
“We’ve got to play better,” Johnson said. “We didn’t play very well the first game. That was execution, that was passing, that was simple plays and I think that was all through the lineup.”
One player missing from that lineup was Lightning center and former Ranger Brian Boyle (undisclosed injury), who missed his first game since April 28, 2012. He did not practice on Sunday.
“Boyle’s a huge part of our team,” Johnson said. “He’s a big guy back there, he kills penalties and does all of the little things right. On the forecheck he gets in and makes his presence (known) there. It’s tough missing him.”
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