Playoff Scoreboard Watch: Sorcerer's Apprentice Edition
Yeah, I'm going THAT bold. If the Penguins don't win tonight, there will be a mad march of brooms looking to sweep them out of the ECF...
With a pair of Game 1s in the books, tonight starts the all-important Game 2s. But who are we kidding, they're all important games in the Playoffs. Saying that any one game in the playoffs is more important than another is like saying any one of our readers here is more important than others. And you guys know that's not true, you all make our lives worth living. Unlike Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, which makes life not worth living. Ugh...
LAST GAME'S RECAP
Last night, the St. Louis Blues took on the San Jose Sharks in a battle of "holy hell who knows what's going to happen". San Jose seemed to be rolling pretty well despite being taken to 7 games in their previous series, while the Blues had knocked off the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars in 7 games each to get to the Western Conference Final. I am going to laugh all summer if St. Louis plays 28 games this post-season and loses in the Stanley Cup Final.
After having the first goal of the night waved off, the Blues took a 1-0 lead in the first that couldn't even last thru the scoring line announcement. While the announcer was still reading off the assists from the Blues goal, the Sharks answered to knot the game up again. This is how much of the game would feel, despite the Blues claiming a 2-1 victory AND despite the Sharks' shot domination in the second period - like neither team was ready to claim this one and the game was just waiting to be taken over until time was up. Maybe this is what parity is supposed to feel like? Or maybe this is the feeling when two perpetual "stepping stone" teams meet in the Conference Finals?
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning (Game 2), 8:00PM EDT - NBCSN
OK, let's get the big news out of the way first... NHL.com is reporting that Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in net over Ben Bishop. If you recall, Bishop made an awkward move in the first period of Game 1 and had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher. Even though he's listed as day-to-day, this is probably the smart move after how the Lightning played last time. Like everyone else, Pittsburgh seemed to have no answer for Tampa's kids and the Lightning defense were absolutely stifling to Captain Whiny and Co. Steven Stamkos was also in a normal practice jersey yesterday morning, and is RUMORED to be aiming for a SCF return or even a late ECF return. Yeah, because Tampa needs more firepower...
Why You Care Enough To Watch: Let's bring this back to the post title - if Pittsburgh loses tonight, they are going to be in a BAD way. Even though we've seen a team battle back and make a series of it after dropping the first two at home this post-season, let's remember that Tampa is not the Nashville Predators. They seem to be less prone to the same ups and downs that the Predators experienced this season, and have been driving a steamroller since the end of the regular season. If the Lightning win tonight, I doubt they let the Pens back into this series. Pittsburgh is going to have to make some major adjustments just to avoid the sweep, let alone win the series. Add in the specter of a Stamkos return, and Pitt should have EVERY sense of urgency tonight to tie this series up at 1-1 tonight. Is Game 2 a little early to be calling for a "must win" situation? Normally, yes... but given how the Lightning have performed this post season, tonight could very well be the first nail in Pittsburgh's coffin.
Is tonight's game a must-win for Pittsburgh?