Victor Hedman Helps Tampa Bay Lightning Close Out Round Two

Victor Hedman
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With the second-round series coming to a close for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins the Lightning will move on. Tampa is advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals and Boston will be leaving the bubble. With a 4-1 victory over the Bruins, the Lightning have only dropped two games this playoff run. Lots of key players were able to help the Lightning this run, such as Brayden PointNikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman.

Victor Hedman Helps Close Out Series For Lightning

Key Pieces Leading to a Lightning Victory

The Lightning played an extremely strong game all series. Point was yet again one of the key pieces in the series victory. While just managing one goal through five games, Point was able to post another six assists in that time. Point did not score goals at the same rate as he did against the Columbus Blue Jackets, however, he was able to generate offence all the same.

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Hedman was able to return to action in Game 1 for the Lightning. His presence was immediately felt. For instance, Hedman posted four goals throughout the series and added two assists. If Hedman had remained injured to start the series his absence would’ve certainly been felt.

Ondrej Palat had an incredible round two after a lacklustre series against the Blue Jackets. Able to generate 3.66 ixGF through the five games played. He was actually able to produce five goals and two assists in that time. To have one of the players that aren’t categorized as an “elite player” on the Lightning’s roster step up and produce in such a dominant way is how this team is will win a Stanley Cup. Palat is a player that was greatly criticized after the victory over Columbus for how little he was able to contribute. One of the players on the roster making over five million dollars a year, he needed to be better. With the second round, Palat was able to be step up in a huge way.

Key Reasons for the Bruins Loss

The most obvious one is the unfortunate circumstances that led to starting goaltender Tuukka Rask leaving the bubble. A completely understandable reason to leave, however, it did leave a hole on the Bruins roster. Jaroslav Halak was a strong option to have as a replacement, except when up against a team like Tampa. This is a series where it is a major disadvantage to not have your starting goaltender in the lineup. This isn’t an error the Bruins can really go out and fix. They have a strong backup option and it was dire circumstances that led to Rask leaving.

Another big reason for the loss is the lack of production from the team’s number one centre. Patrice Bergeron was only able to generate two secondary assists in five games. For a team that leans so heavily on its top line, for one of the players to stop producing like that at a key time is a major issue.

While it can be argued that this is the best the Bruins depth forwards have been in a long time, but they still were unable to get much going this series. This made the issue with Bergeron so much more apparent when the depth couldn’t fill in for this lack of scoring. The Bruins averaged just two goals per game through the series, never managing more than three in a single game. The Bruins were outscored 19-10 through this series, pointing to some major issues. While some of the goals against could be attributed to missing Rask, the lack of offence cannot.

How Tampa Can Carry This Into Round Three

Tampa will be moving onto the Eastern Conference Finals. They will face the winner of the  New York Islanders/Philadelphia Flyers series. The Lightning will need to maintain scoring from every aspect of their lineup. Point, Kucherov and Hedman will need to keep up their incredible play as the team’s star players. If the Lightning’s depth has actually sparked to life and they didn’t have just a hot series, the Lightning will be incredibly hard to stop.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will need to continue playing out of his mind like he did in Game 4 and 5. He has been incredibly inconsistent through two rounds this year. Some nights he looks like a Vezina-calibre goalie and others he looks like a clear backup player. If Vasilevskiy is able to mitigate the sub-par nights and continue to step up with unbelievable ones, the Lightning should be sitting pretty.

The Lightning also could have an ace up their sleeve for the third round. Not much has been said about Steven Stamkos, but with lots of extra time off he could return to play in round three. Adding Stamkos to an already fantastic lineup could send this team over the edge. The Lightning have been playing out of their mind of late. However, the next series will be no easy task. One of the Islanders or Flyers will be facing them, and both teams have proven they can play an incredibly strong game.

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