Despite no Steven Stamkos, and injuries to Ben Bishop and Tyler Johnson early, the Lightning managed to commit thievery in Pittsburgh with a win in Game 1. Stamkos was of course out from the start, with Bishop and Johnson getting injured in the 1st period. However, the injury to Bishop was a turning point in the opposite direction. The Penguins seemingly stopped playing after Bishop was carried off on a stretcher. I suppose they thought they were going to acquire free goals with no Bishop in net.
While the Pens, surprisingly, accumulated 35 shots in total, few of those shots were quality scoring chances. They never really tested the backup, Andrei Vasilevski. Not to take anything away from Vasilevski, because he played well under the circumstances, but the Penguins didn’t take advantage of a cold goaltender coming off the bench. Vasilevski hadn’t started two consecutive games all season long, so that just says how much work he got in the regular season.
The Bishop injury didn’t look like a short-term kind of bump. It looked like an injury that would take him out of the series and perhaps drag into next season, a broken leg or a tear in his knee. Somehow the x-rays came back negative and Bishop is currently listed as day-to-day. I have seen guy tear everything in their knee apart and not look as in much pain, so I assumed there was something really bad going on, as did everyone else. Bishop’s status is unclear at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him. If he can’t go, luckily for the Lightning, Vasilevski got some much needed action in Game 1.
The Penguins can’t look so flat again, regardless of whoever is in net. If they don’t generate scoring chances, it won’t matter if it’s Bishop or Vasilevski. The Pens had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring, but failed to deliver on a 5-minute power-play. You never get a good feeling about teams after they do nothing on 5-on-3’s or a 5-minute penalty. The Penguins gave me that feeling and it definitely wasn’t unwarranted as the Lightning put up 3-0 on the scoreboard. It goes without saying that the Penguins have an important game on their hands tonight. Sidney Crosby, where are you? We’ll see if he can get on the board and tie this series up heading to Florida.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Playoffs Pick
Tyler Johnson ultimately returned to Game 1, so his status for this game isn’t up in the air, he will be starting on Monday night. They got by for part of a game without him, but it would have been devastating if they had to go the rest of the series without their ‘quarterback’. Stamkos has gotten some ice time in practice, however, has yet to get clearance. I doubt we’ll see him in any capacity this series, especially with a big contract coming his way in the offseason. The Lightning have come in to the series as big underdogs, which I thought was unfair to the Lightning. I still say this is going to be a lengthy series.
The Penguins were one-and-done in Game 1. I say this referring to their shots on net. There were no big opportunities off rebounds around the net. The Pens would get on a shot on net and that was it as far as the threat went. In other words, they tossed away a great chance to put the heat on the Lightning backup goaltender. I predicted that we were going to see splits in both cities in this series. The only problem is I had the Penguins winning Game 1. I’m going to go right back to my original hypothesis, which would state the Penguins win this game. The Penguins for me, but again, I’m not laying that much juice. Instead I’m going with the Penguins to win in regulation, the same bet as Game 1.