Today on Daily face-to-face liveTyler Yaremchuk and Mike McKenna talk about Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper’s decision on star sitters Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point for the third period against the Buffalo Sabers.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Let’s talk about another team that wants another long playoff streak, the Tampa Bay Lightning have made it to three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, but you couldn’t tell by watching them over the weekend. end last. They’ve lost five in a row, on Saturday they lost to the Buffalo Sabers and in the last 20 minutes of that game, Jon Cooper sat down his stars, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. There was a total of zero lag in that third period against the Sabres.
Some people might say it was a « hey, they’re not going to win, they’re not coming back, they’re playing the next few days, so rest your stars » type of load management deal. Somehow, I guess their Star players reacted pretty well against Carolina on Sunday, Kucherov had four shots on goal and Stamkos had five hits for the team lead. But it was a pretty miserable game for the Lightning, they lost 6-0 and they became the only team this season to go an entire period without a shot on goal. They were outshot 38-14, Mike are the Lightning running out of gas or is it just a mid-season blip on the radar?
mike mckenna: Well, it’s more than a blot on the radar if Cooper goes nuclear and sits on his top line. It’s not load management, it’s trying to send a message to your entire lineup. Go back and watch the goals conceded in the game against Buffalo, you have Brayden Point on a lazy miss for the Sabers third goal, then with twenty seconds left in the period, Point gives no pressure to Tage Thompson who just waltzes and made it 4-1. I think when you look at it as a whole, Cooper is saying we have to hold our top line accountable and hold him to the same responsibility as everyone else in the lineup. Stamkos, Point, Kucherov, they’re big boys and they can handle it, they’re leaders, they know what it’s like.
The problem is, the team came out and backed him up with a terrible performance against Carolina the following night. I don’t care if it’s back to back, after that happens with your top line you have to bring it. They have allowed 27 goals in their last five games and Andrei Vasilevskiy has played in four. They haven’t won in two weeks, they allowed four power-play goals in Carolina, and even Anthony Cirelli got chewed up last night.
I think part of it is growing pains, you have Tanner Jeannot getting mixed up in the lineup trying to find second and third line minutes. In the end, they didn’t work hard enough against Buffalo, and then they laid an egg against Carolina. Tampa has lost five straight and they need to bounce back. There are 20 games left and you can’t slowly work your way to the playoffs.
Tyler Yaremchuk: No, and as much as the Tampa Bay Lightning have done in the past; you can’t just be the team that says « hey, we’re going to flip the switch in Game 1 » because the Maple Leafs team you’re facing looks good. Also, another concern for the Lightning is Victor Hedman who fell hard, was slow to get up and went down the tunnel. If this team starts getting hurt, you really wonder if they’re capable of making another deep playoff series.
You can watch the full episode here…