THINGS TO WATCH:
First of all, Tampa’s top line is probably a bit more dangerous then Florida. They are different, though. They are small and fast. Their top line scores a vast majority of their goals. If the NY Islanders can contain them, then they will likely beat them. If they cannot, this will not be an easy time coming from behind as it was versus Florida.
Tampa is not Florida, and illusions that they are less than Florida will cause some disappointment. Tampa Bay doesn’t give up a lot of goals or shots. So, the Isles can NOT give up easy goals or stay behind and hope resiliency saves the day. Above all, they need to stay out of penalty box. Letting the Tampa Bay offense constantly on the power play will doom the Isles.
Also, unlike Florida, this is a playoff experienced team. Witness their spanking of the Detroit Red Wings in round 1. This is not a team just happy to be there. This is a team with cup aspirations, despite key injuries.
Lastly… in this series shot differential will probably be telling. The Isles must get more shots on goal to win. Watch this carefully.
Once again, like with Florida, it is on Thomas Greiss to be equal to the task. He faces Ben Bishop in goal for Tampa. Greiss must keep the same level in this round. This said, Jaroslav Halak seems close to being available. In speaking to some folks, despite some media floating Halak rumors, I am told the likelihood of him seeing time in this series is pretty thin. In fact, I’m told you might not see him ready even to backup Greiss anytime soon. The Isles will ride Thomas Greiss.
John Tavares has been the key offensive force for the Islanders, and needs to remain so. Once again, this is about best players being best players in the playoffs. So JT must outdo Tampa’s top players in order to succeed.
WHO ARE THESE ISLES?
The Islanders have gotten over the round 1 hump finally, but they must start to play more consistently to win this round. Can they take their success, ride some confidence and exert some will? Or will they turn back into being substandard and flaws, letting Tampa dictate the action. It is key for the Isles to steal a Tampa home game. This won’t happen if the Isles revert to Mr. Hyde. They need to play like they belong. If Tampa takes two games and we head to Barclays 0-2, they will have the experience and will to take another there. That means they could come back home next week with 3-1 lead, poised to close the Isles out in 5.
Isles must not only hold at home, but take one from Tampa. This is where this series pivots… early in game 1 and 2. Isles must lead, not come from behind in this round.
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