Tampa Bay Lightning Win Four Straight To Reach 2022 Stanley Cup Final

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have defeated the New York Rangers in six games. After dropping the first two games in the series, Tampa Bay would win the next four games in a row to emerge victorious in this series. After completing the comeback, they set up a date with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Many things went right for Tampa Bay, and some went wrong for New York.

Tampa Bay Defeats New York, Advance to 2022 Stanley Cup Final

Andrei Vasilevskiy

The best goalie in the world lived up to his billing. The world-class netminder went from rusty to remarkable in short order. At the beginning of the series, he was not the same goalie that faced the Florida Panthers. After starting the series allowing nine goals in the first two games and posting a save percentage of .824 and .893, he returned to his elite form.

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Igor Shesterkin was very good in the series, but Andrei Vasilevskiy proved to be better. After facing defeat in the first two games, he rose like a Phoenix from the ashes and went on to win four straight. According to Stat Muse, Vasilevskiy went on to post a 1.00 goals-against average in the last three games, and 2.00 in Game 3. His save percentage increased and he became the rock he needed to be in the net.

Vasilevskiy lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2019 during this series, but that did not stop him from being the elite goalie we’ve been watching for the past few seasons.

Tampa Bays Big Guns Pay Dividends

If there is one thing that prevailed this entire series, it was that Tampa Bays’ big guns stepped up. Even in the first two games where they suffered defeat, the big guys up front found the scoresheet. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucherov played a large part in the offensive attack for Tampa Bay. New York had no answers and the top line for the Bolts scored 23 points in the series.

Ondrej Palat had four goals and four assists in this series. Two of his goals proved to be game-winners, none more significant than the goal in Game 3. Captain Steven Stamkos became a force in the series, scoring a team-high five goals. His two goals in Game 6 were the two most significant of the series. Nikita Kucherov tied Ondrej Palat for the team lead in points with eight.

While Tampa Bay has the depth, the big guns got it done for them.

What Went Wrong In New York

After coming out flying and taking advantage of a Tampa Bay team that hadn’t played in nine days, New York had no answers the rest of the way.

Unlike Tampa, the big boys in New York went cold and fell flat. Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Artemi Panarin all finished the series with five points. The problem was, they never came through when it mattered in the team’s final two games in the series. And to make matters worse, the team managed to score one even-strength goal in three straight games. No forward scored one at even strength since the second period of Game 2.

The Rangers were the less superior team at even strength. Per Natural Stat Trick, Even in the games where Tampa suffered defeat, they had the better Corsi For Percentage and the better team at even strength. That carried weight through the rest of the series. Relying solely on the power play proved unsustainable.

According to Money Puck, during the regular season, the Rangers were the eighth worst team at Corsi For Percentage. That carried over to the playoffs as they ranked the 12th. It ended up being their downfall in this series and something to improve on come next season.

Tampa Bay/New York Reflections

While losing in the Conference Final is painful, overall this was a positive result for the Rangers. This is a team nobody expected to make the conference final so they surpassed expectations. The group gained valuable experience, and the young kids grew their games when the stage got bigger and more challenging. Going from a rebuild letter sent out to the fan base in 2018, they are now a team contending and should be one in the future.

Tampa Bay has reached the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year. Pat Maroon could end up as an individual dynasty, and he aims to win his fourth in a row. Corey Perry is now the second player in NHL history to reach the Final with three different franchises in three consecutive seasons. Marian Hossa was the last to do it from 2008 to 2010 before finally winning it with the Chicago Blackhawks.

 

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