Tampa, FL: I’m back from a vacation in Florida, just a few miles down the road from where the New York Islanders season ended on Friday night. The Lightning are likely to go on to win the Cup. Tampa has more talent than the Canadiens, but it’s easy to stockpile talent when you’re $17 million over the salary cap. Legally, somehow. That game winning goal probably shouldn’t have counted either. Damn cheaters.
Shorthanded? Longhanded, I Say!
The only goal in Game 7 was scored on a shorthanded goal by Yanni Gourde. It was the first time in NHL history that the only goal of a Game 7 was a shorthanded goal. But for those of us who can count, they were not shorthanded. Watch this clip and keep an eye on the Tampa bench.
Look how early Gourde and the defenseman who came on for #81 Erik Cernak left the bench. Neither one of the guys coming off are within five feet of the bench when their replacement jumps on. Not close. It doesn’t look like Cernak was even going to come off until he saw his replacement jump on, and he had to do a quick tight turn to the bench. And maybe they aren’t the most egregious changes in NHL history, but two clear violations at once? Call it, Hannah. Tampa Bay went on the Power Play for a bit there.
I think the refs in my beer league, who only want to get their 35 bucks and go home, would have called that one. Okay, maybe not. But still, it should have been called. It’s Game 7.
Salary Cap, Schmalary Cap
And why in the name of Bill Quakenbush does the NHL allow teams to legally circumvent the salary cap for a guy who doesn’t play in the regular season but comes back for the playoffs? The Blackhawks did it in 2015 with Patrick Kane, and now the Lightning did it this season with Nikita Kucherov.
Kucherov scored two goals in Game 1 and assisted on another to turn a tight 2-1 game going into the third into a 5-1 comfortable victory. The guy has has showed no signs of rust. The Lightning would have had to jettison a key player like Alex Killorn or Tyler Johnson to make room otherwise. This is silly loophole the NHL should remove immediately.
Carey Price is good but Tampa has too many weapons. I don’t think this series goes more than five. Consider this Cup tainted!
Speaking of tainted, come back tomorrow for Angry Ward. Follow us on Twitter at @benwhit, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.