At first glance, you'd think the Lightning had a relatively easy journey to reach the Stanley Cup Final. After all, they've only suffered five losses, winning two of the three series they've made in five games.
Except that they played 185:17 in overtime. Never seen in the history of the NHL. Against the New York Islanders, they were beaten up by conceding 326 hits (48.2 per 60 minutes). They also distributed their share of shoulder strikes with 298 (44.06 per 60 minutes). Enough to eat up a good dose of energy.
“We always have gas for a Stanley Cup final,” said Yanni Gourde. Yes, it was a physical series. The Islanders played really well. But we're ready and we're excited to start. ”
Still, some of Gourde's teammates appeared to be pumping oil from the third period on Thursday night.
The strategy of using 11 forwards may be a habit with the Lightning, but Nikita Kucherov has spent 64:11 on the ice in the last two games. An eternity for an attacker.
And there are still questions about the state of health of Brayden Point.
“Everyone on both sides is playing despite injuries. I do not believe that you can go so far in the playoffs without a sore », was satisfied to answer Point.
Moreover, it does not look better against the Stars, a relatively strong team. They hit less, but they reduce the space to a minimum on the ice.
“This is the final. This is expected to be a very difficult series. It is an imposing and physical team. They're also very talented and quick, ”Point said.
Stamkos maybe, but not on Saturday night
Although he is present in the entourage of the team, that he takes part in all the training and that he has lifted the Prince of Wales trophy, given to the champions of the Eastern Association, Steven Stamkos will not face the Stars. At least not for the first game.
“He is continuing his rehabilitation. I'm not giving up on him, but I don't expect to see him in uniform tomorrow [Saturday night], ”said Julien BriseBois, general manager of the Lightning.
The captain underwent surgery in the abdominal area in early March. Recovered, he joined his teammates in Tampa Bay for Phase 3. Then, suddenly, the Lightning indicated he was no longer fit to play.
Has he made his injury worse or has he suffered a new one? The regulations put in place to prevent teams from having to disclose COVID cases have kept the mystery intact.