There are several story lines throughout this series, many surrounding Sidney Crosby and his questionable (or immanent) return. There is another that impacts the actual games more: experience. The Lightning are the least experienced team in the playoffs this season. It was unquestioningly going to be an adjustment for them.
Last night, they met that call. They played a great playoff game. They gave up very few chances, locked down the neutral zone, and crashed the net. Tampa was a victim of two things that are great playoff lessons.
One, you can’t let up your focus, even for a second. They let up for 18 seconds and were suddenly down 2-0. There is zero room for error in the playoffs, particularly against a team like Pittsburgh who have been to the playoffs five straight seasons and know how to succeed in them. They will capitalize on those lapses every single time.
The second is the hot goaltender. Usually the rule of thumb is to get as many shots on net as possible. The only think with that is that if you aren’t taking good shots, they are relatively easy saves for the goalie to make. The more easy saves the goalie makes, the more comfortable he feels and the more he will get into a rhythm.
That’s what happened in the first period. The Lightning had a lot of great opportunities, but they also allowed Fleury to get into a comfortable rhythm with some easy saves. Once Fleury got in that zone, there wasn’t much the Lightning could have done, especially with so much of the game gone by.
Positives: the Lightning had a team meeting that went about an hour over schedule today. The coaching staff is breaking down the game for those who haven’t been here before, and expect them to come out much more methodical and much less emotional in game 2.
Also, the Lightning got just one power play in game 1. That likely won’t happen again in game 2, and we all know how much this team feeds off it’s power play. They got the chances, now they just need to capitalize on them. Finishing will be the key tomorrow.