With the Lightning trailing the Avalanche 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals, tonight will be another must-win game for the Lightning.
The Bolts have been in this position this postseason. They trailed the New York Rangers 2-0 before coming back to win four straight in the Eastern Conference. Finals.
The Colorado Avalanche is not the New York Rangers. The Avalanche are a much better team in every area than the Rangers except for goaltending.
The Lightning is coming off one of their worst playoff losses and will have to show massive improvement in all areas to beat this Colorado team.
The seven goals that Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed in game two were the most goals that he has given up in his career, including regular and postseason.
The Lightning seems to have no answer for the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche team speed is superior to the Lightning, but the Bolts were able to neutralize that speed in their previous playoff series with Toronto, Florida, and the Rangers.
There has been little to no forechecking. Colorado has been able to dictate the game’s pace and move the puck up the ice at will, with very little resistance. The Lightning is now paying the price for being so passive as they now trail 2-0 in the series.
The Lightning has had trouble bringing the puck up ice and getting sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
Avalnche goaltender Darcy Kuemper has yet to be tested in this sereis. The Avalanche has launched 138 shots in the first two games. Not all have reached the net. Some have been blocked, shot wide, or deflected out of play.
The Lightning has not even generated half of that amount of shots at Darcy Kuemper.
Maintaining pressure in the offensive zone, and making Darcy Kuemper do some work, will go a long way to help this Lightning get back on track.
The Bolts have been sloppy with the puck. For example, the Mikhail Sergachev turnover in game one directly led to the overtime goal in the 4-3 Avalanche win.
Puck possession, passing, skating, all the little things that the Lightning did in their previous series wins to get this spot; they have not done against the Avalanche.
Most of the national media and even some Lightning fans have given up on the team and think the series is already over.
There is no panic in the Lightning locker room.
Steven Stamkos had a message about game three as the Lightning returned home. “People are gonna be watching this game (the Game two 7-0 loss)and probably think the series is over. It’s a loss in the playoffs. We’ve got to man up as a team and as a person. Let’s get back home in front of our fans, and let’s see what we’re made of.”
The Lightning knows they have not played remotely close to how they have played this postseason. As a result, not one team member can say they have played well in these finals.
The Lightning is back home for the next two, where they are 7-0 this postseason. That’s right; they have not lost a game in the playoffs this season at Amalie.
Tonight is the most crucial game of the season for the Lightning.
The Lightning will need to be the aggressor. Develop a strong forecheck. Improve their passing and skating and cut down on the turnovers.
Andrei Vasileviskiy will need to play better. In addition, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have to get more shots on goal. Kucherov did not attempt one shot in the loss on Saturday.
If the team can make these adjustments, they will win game three, and we have a brand new series.
If not, the Lightning will go down 3-0 in the series, and visions of a third straight Stanley Cup win will start slipping away.