Lightning Strikes Six Times Again; Porous Rangers D Reeling
Over in the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to get to the Stanley Cup finals with only four defensemen.
It seems the New York Rangers are trying to do it with none.
How else to explain wide-open Lightningeers around the net in their playoff escapades against the Rangers?
And apparently, the Blueshirts' own version of the Borg -- that's Swedish for castle or stronghold -- has had the mantra thrown right back at him:
Which isn't cool when it goes right by his face for the game winner:
And that's how Tampa Bay takes a 6-5 decision in overtime and leads the series, 2-1.
What went wrong for the Rangers at such a crucial juncture? Let us count the ways:
- Sloppy line change? Check.
- Giving Nikita Kucherov a free pass down the right side? Check.
- Allowing the ballsy Russian to skate into the middle without experiencing a yard sale? Check-a-roonie.
- Henrik Lundqvist clearly assuming he'd skate closer to the goal before firing? Checkmate.
The reality, though, is that defense in this series is an afterthought for both teams:
For goalies and blueliners, an exhibition like that in a Stanley Cup playoff is as embarrassing as white dudes dancing.
These are two of the speediest teams in the league, with Tampa Bay's so-called triplets running the anchor leg. A cornucopia of shot ops wasn't unexpected. However, the number of totally open looks with so much at stake has been mind blowing.
Ben Bishop has no choice but to sort it out. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, however, has a choice. Cam Talbot may not be battle-tested in the playoffs, but he's a chief reason why the Blueshirts are the East's No 1 seed.
At this point, that move remains unthinkable. However, if the Lightning protect home ice and go up three games to one, nothing will be sacred for the Rangers.