That’s the word of the day.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have yet another chance to book their trip to the Stanley Cup Finals with a win over the New York Islanders tonight in game six. This is now their second opportunity to do so but they lost a winnable game five Tuesday night that may have given the Islanders’ locker room reason to believe.
This will be the Lightning’s sixth opportunity since 2016 to close out an Eastern Conference Finals series where they are 0-5 in their last five attempts to do so, losing two straight to the Penguins in 2016, two straight to the Capitals in 2018, and game five to the Islanders.
This Tampa Bay Lightning team, however, is 4-0 in the bubble following a loss going back to their round robin loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Tampa Bay as a franchise has never lost a series where they’ve held a 3-1 lead. So, something has to give. They will either continue the streak of winning every playoff series where they’ve held a 3-1 lead or they will lose their third consecutive Eastern Conference Finals series when holding a 3-2 lead.
Brayden Point has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Lightning in this postseason and it’s no surprise the Lightning are 0-2 when he doesn’t play. However, they’ve been able to withstand a multitude of injuries to this roster and the two games they lost without Point were both very winnable.
Counted out, assumed to be a lost cause, or plain forgotten. Steven Stamkos is beginning to turn some heads by joining his teammates for practice this week. No, he isn’t available for tonight’s game – but could this be a sign that he is going to come in and help this team out should they reach the Stanley Cup?
It’s all about the response. Tonight is it for the Tampa Bay Lightning and they know it. They have confidence in each other, confidence in their coaches, and confidence that they are the best team still standing in the NHL playoffs. It doesn’t matter to them who isn’t on the ice – it’s about who is. This is a different Lightning team than we’ve seen in nearly half a decade. One that doesn’t rely solely on their ability to outscore you. They can wear you down, beat you at your own style of hockey, then come back and say, “Is that all you got?”
They know they should have won game five. They know they probably should have won game three. They know they can go out on the ice and end the Islanders’ season tonight and move on to face a tough Dallas Stars team. And at the end of the day, they were not dealt a knockout blow in game five. They haven’t been dealt a knockout blow all postseason. When another team catches them with a right cross or left jab, it’s been the Lightning that have responded with that punch to end it all.
Will they do that again tonight? I believe so. Because this is a resilient team that isn’t going to be taken down by a surprise uppercut. Instead, they’ll stand up, wipe the blood off their lip, and say “Is that all you got?”
Game Six Information
TV Broadcast: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN
Radio Broadcast: 970 WFLA
Where: Rogers Place – Edmonton, Alberta
When: Thursday, September 17 – 8:00 p.m. ET