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Rite of Spring 2019: The Chase for the Stanley Cup

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29 minutes ago, Bucfan56 said:

 

Anyone who still roots for and follows the Sharks closely is nothing but a total schmuck. They lost me as a fan a long time ago, and I’m to the point now where I actively hate this team more than I’ve ever hated the Kings, Ducks, Red Wings, Penguins, Sand Queens, and anyone else who’s repeatedly embarrassed them. 

 

:censored: the Sharks. Stop wasting your time with these clowns. 

 

I don’t even really watch anymore. I just use them as an excuse to $hitpost, show off images of booze and grunge musicians from Google images, and post lyrics from a band I’m not incredibly into at the moment.

 

This is a team that needed a full rebuild, a fresh start free of a guy who looks and acts like a member of the Pickton family (search at your own caution - let’s just say the Vancouver PD really screwed the pooch here) and a decent set of veterans. However, the Sharks a diseased mess that will never truly get over the hump. Apparently, the North Stars’ raw mediocrity rubbed off on the squad in the demerger.

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Can anyone more well-versed in NHL playoff history quantify just how this ranks in terms of failure?  

 

Presidents Trophy winner has never been swept in rd1, no?  But there’s something so Hockey about this that it almost comes off to me as, “well, this is how hockey tends to work in the playoffs.”  

 

TBL won 3/4 on a Canada trip to close the season, prefaced by few games of .500 hockey against a handful of excellent teams.  It wasn’t exactly an inspiring close (and I’m looking purely from a surface level) and one could argue travel fatigue played a part in some granular fashion.  Either way, they’ve been #1 for a month, and you can’t write off that impact. 

 

Columbus had to claw their way just to get into the playoffs, and when you put a *hockey* team on a mission, this is usually the result, but on such a level of catastrophe for an uber-elite opponent?  

 

Part of this smacks of Lake Placid 1980 in terms of amazing hockey upset (cultural and geopolitical impact aside, obviously), but maybe it’s because this is the Tampa Bay Lightning that flopped so hard, I can’t go too drunkenly toward feeling like I witnessed some incredible history.  

 

Also its 4:30 am and I’m in phone re-watching hockey highlights and eating marinara sauce, so maybe this entire thing is fever-dream text vomit. 

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9 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

 

:P

 

B+

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5 hours ago, AustinFomBoston said:

Columbus better hope Boston/Toronto doesn't go 7. 

We've seen before how too much rest can stifle a blazing hot team. 

 

True... but if I'm Columbus, I want the Boston/Toronto series to go 7 games. All that rest can be a really good thing AND whoever survives that series may not be 100% by the time the 2nd Round series begins.

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If the NHL would start doing their playoffs seeding the right way, Pittsburgh probably wouldn't have made it in anyways. Still don't understand why teams get rewarded for losing in overtime. They don't do it in baseball, basketball, or football.

 

Hell even Arizona got screwed out of a playoff spot this year.

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Has any franchise made any statement like this so soon after defeat?

 

 

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Guys. I found the reason Tampa Bay was swept. It’s right here:

 

 

Listen at your own peril. Three Dads and a Minivan presents....

 

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So what the hell just happened? My thoughts on this series, buckle up:

 

- It's one of the most stunning results I've seen in any sport. Even in the wild and crazy NHL it's still unreal. It being pulled off by the team I just watched for 82 games over the last six months only makes it more unbelievable. Based on the regular season and how these two teams' years went, especially head-to-head, it's one I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams. If you'd told me after the first period of game 1 that the Blue Jackets were not only going to win this series, but sweep it, I would've pushed you down a flight of stairs.

 

- That first period of game 1 where they looked jittery and nervous and gave up 3 bad goals may have ended up being the best thing that could've happened to them. As weird as it is to say, that was the turning point. It forced them to play simple, it forced everyone to stick to their roles, to play responsible, air-tight, rock-solid defensive hockey and it forced them to forecheck. It also lulled the Lightning into a sense of comfort. It was rock-bottom which meant there was no time left to play nervous or scared and it woke Bobrovsky up. From there I think the light clicked and they figured out they could play on the same ice with the Lightning. 

 

- When you lose a game in the playoffs that you should've won it's worse than just getting blown-out because it's like you won the game, but you didn't get credit for it and mentally you think that now you need to win 5 out of 7 while the other team only has to win 3 out of 7. I think that's how Tampa felt leaving the ice after game 1. 

 

- Game 2 was where I really started to think it was possible. The Lightning still approached that game like they could just show up and win the next four without a real effort, while the Jackets who've been in playoff mode for a month outworked and outplayed and outschemed them in all facets of the game. Bob was light out, Vasilevskiy was not (which is probably the biggest reason this series fell the way it did).

 

- Cooper's response to Game 2, I thought, was really telling. His calmly stated "This is a five alarm fire, but this is adversity maybe that's good" was just like not getting it. Their regular season went too easily, they didn't have pressure all year and I honestly don't think they knew how to handle it. When they showed up for Game 3 I still don't think Cooper or anyone in that dressing room really showed the proper deference for the danger they were in and they got outplayed for the first two periods. I don't think they realized how much trouble they were in until the third period of Game 3. Even after going down 0-3 I felt like there was still some weird arrogance coming from them, like "we're the Lightning. We can win four straight". I got a very Tortoise and the Hare, Casey at the Bat kind of feeling from them. Almost like they never thought it possible that they could lose until the first empty net goal went in. It was really weird to watch. 

 

So to boil it down to a few factors:

Bob was incredible, Vasilevskiy was not sharp, their neutral zone play and forecheck were perfect, they got so much :censored:ing puckluck on both ends I couldn't believe it (BUT REALLY IT WAS LONG OVERDUE FOR US TO GET SOME PUCKLUCK IN THE PLAYOFFS), their special teams were amazing, they didn't take dumb penalties, the officiating I felt was really fair and didn't gift Tampa penalties the way they gifted Pittsburgh penalties two years ago. They played four solid lines and 3 defensive pairings and you didn't really worry when any of them were on the ice. Cooper got out-coached in more ways than one, the Lightning never took them as seriously as they should've, the Blue Jackets are a lot better than their record would have you believe (I think they're like 3rd or 4th in wins over the last 3 years), everyone on the Jackets contributed, the Lightning spent too much of the season coasting while the Jackets have been in playoff mode for a month, the Lightning's stars went cold, went crazy (Kucherov), or got injured (Hedman). It's all still amazing. Thank god it's over. I was never able to relax until they went up 6-3.

 

Is this Columbus native Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson? It's really close and feels very similar. 

 


 

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1 hour ago, dfwabel said:

Has any franchise made any statement like this so soon after defeat?

 

 

 

Oh good lord. This is embarrassing.

 

As a neutral observer of NHL, things like the Columbus and the Islanders beating the Lightning and Penguins are interesting to me as a casual observer, the same way I was really excited about the Golden Knights' run last year. Variance is exciting, but for whatever reason, it seems to be even more exciting in pro hockey.

 

I would love to see a Winnipeg/Columbus final. Or Islanders/Flames. Or even Blues/Capitals. My entire conception of hockey is generally some combination of the Kings, Red Wings, Penguins, Ducks and Bruins, so any change from those teams is welcome.

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12 minutes ago, DG_Now said:

 

Oh good lord. This is embarrassing.

 

As a neutral observer of NHL, things like the Columbus and the Islanders beating the Lightning and Penguins are interesting to me as a casual observer, the same way I was really excited about the Golden Knights' run last year. Variance is exciting, but for whatever reason, it seems to be even more exciting in pro hockey.

 

I would love to see a Winnipeg/Columbus final. Or Islanders/Flames. Or even Blues/Capitals. My entire conception of hockey is generally some combination of the Kings, Red Wings, Penguins, Ducks and Bruins, so any change from those teams is welcome.

 

Did Atlanta put out anything after the super bowl? Or golden state after losing to the cavs? 

 

There's going to be some disgruntled Lightning fans and it may bleed over into next year. They're going to want blood. Someone important loses their job over this. If only to keep the angry mob appeased. 

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12 minutes ago, Sykotyk said:

 

Did Atlanta put out anything after the super bowl? Or golden state after losing to the cavs? 

 

 

 

Probably, but I think a simple graphic saying something like "thank you to our fans! We'll get 'em next season!" is probably the preferred way to go.

 

Right?

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After and ending like that, Heads definitely have to start rolling in Tampa. 

Though it honestly wouldn't surprise me if they did next to nothing. 

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36 minutes ago, McCarthy said:

When they showed up for Game 3 I still don't think Cooper or anyone in that dressing room really showed the proper deference for the danger they were in and they got outplayed for the first two periods. I don't think they realized how much trouble they were in until the third period of Game 3.

Of all the extremely weird things about how this series happened, the first period of Game 3 was maybe the weirdest. I'm sitting there before the game, thinking I'd be happy if the Jackets could weather the first 10 minutes or so, and they allowed 3 shots on goal the entire period.

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Lightning becomes the disappointment all others will be measured against

 

Quote

“If we, down the road, win the Stanley Cup I’ll have no problem reconciling (this),’’ coach Jon Cooper said. “Right now, it’s tough.’’

 

There was no redemption to be found in a 7-3 Game 4 loss Tuesday, although it was the best showing of skill and heart Tampa Bay gave in the series.

 

And for sports fans in Tampa Bay, it was the final chapter in a whole new story of despair. In a way, it was as if an entire community was duped. For six months, the Lightning had you believing you were seeing something historic.

 

And in the end, it was all choke and mirrors.

 

Quote

The line between glory and infamy is a thin one. You cannot chase one without risking the other. And as the successes piled up in the regular season, so did the expectations for the postseason.

 

Which leaves us with this question:

 

Was it all a lie?

 

It’s hard to justify any argument that this 62-win team was among history’s greatest when it fell so easily and so completely to a team that qualified for the playoffs on the day before the season ended.

 

Granted, there are reasons this happened. Plausible, logical reasons. You just have to dig through a season’s worth of plaudits, records and awards to recognize them.

 

We thought Tampa Bay players were focused and relentless in the regular season, but never realized they were going full-tilt against teams that were only occasionally committed.

 

When another team and another coach — and fate cruelly left that up to former Lightning coach John Tortorella — had both the time and urgency to create a neutral zone strategy that would slow this offense down, Lightning players were completely unprepared to adjust.

 

“When you have the amount of points we had, it’s a blessing and a curse,’’ Cooper said. “You don’t play really any meaningful hockey for a long time and then all of the sudden you’ve got to amp it up. It’s not an excuse, it’s reality. That’s how it goes.

 

“And so you have a historic regular season the way we did and basically had a historic playoff in defeat.’’

 

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14 hours ago, AustinFomBoston said:

Best comparison I can think of is the 2011 Packers or 2007 Cowboys. 

 

13 hours ago, Kramerica Industries said:

 

Both those teams bailed out big-time by the Giants winning the Super Bowl in both cases. Same with the 2012 Canucks, which was one comparison I heard. I suppose it's possible the Jackets could go all the way as well, but obviously that's yet to be determined. 

Rest assured that going 15-1 in the regular season (2011 Packers) and then losing at home in the Divisional Round of the playoffs doesn't allow ANYONE to bail you out, regardless of what happens thereafter.

 

ON TOPIC - I love playoff hockey!

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9 hours ago, CS85 said:

Presidents Trophy winner has never been swept in rd1, no?  But there’s something so Hockey about this that it almost comes off to me as, “well, this is how hockey tends to work in the playoffs.”

 

This is unprecedented and goes beyond hockey being hockey. This was more than the usual Goalie Goes Nuts fare (though Bobrovsky did throw up like a .950 on the series and, in fact, went nuts) : the Jackets also forechecked the Bolts into oblivion and for some reason they had no answer for the pressure, and meanwhile, Vasilevskiy had a terrible performance and never should have started all four games once it was clear what was happening (i.e., leaving home down 0-2). Steven Stamkos disappearing in the playoffs has been an elephant in the room for years now but it's finally so apparent that you have to ask whether he even deserves the captaincy anymore if there's any sense that his ghosting sets any kind of tone.

 

When this happened to the Blackhawks two years ago, it was because Rinne hit something like .960 and Artemi Panarin decided he wasn't going to show up (and, to tie it all together, got himself sent to Columbus for it). This was a catastrophic failure on far more levels.

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