In the wake of Saturday's 2-1 victory by the New York Rangers over the Tampa Bay Lightning, an article at NHL.com opines that there are three keys to victory for each team in tonight's game. I am blatantly stealing them.
Enjoy the game together. Trash talking is encouraged.
Believe that they belong and play like it.
The Lightning won two series and gained great experience in doing so, but they're in the Eastern Conference Final. They earned their way here and they should be playing and acting like they belong and they know what's at stake.
More from Stamkos and his team mates.
By his own admission Lightning captain Steven Stamkos did not play well in Game 1, when he had one shot on goal (none at even strength), two total shot attempts (one missed shot) and was a minus-1 in 19:32 of ice time.
"I have to be better," Stamkos said. "Our team has to be better, yeah, but I want to be a guy that can go out there and lead. That's my focus."
Get through the neutral zone.
One of the Rangers' strengths in Game 1 was defending in the neutral zone. They forced a lot of turnovers with their pressure. Tampa Bay also had several unforced giveaways that led to chances, or at least possession time for New York.
Apply pressure in the neutral zone
This obviously is important for them to do again in Game 2, but not as much to create outnumbered situations into the offensive zone as it is to slow down Tampa Bay.
Cut off the seam pass on the penalty kill
"You have to have sticks in the lanes, skates in the lanes," Rangers left wing Rick Nash said. "Watching the video you know they're trying for a lot of seams and it's something that you've got to try to protect. But at the same time you've got to take away their one-timers."
Make the odd-man rushes count
Tampa Bay's turnovers led to a number of odd-man rushes for the Rangers, but they either couldn't connect on their passes or their shots missed the net. Seconds before Moore scored, the Rangers had an odd-man rush but Derick Brassard skated past the puck after Moore left him a drop pass inside the blue line.