For additional insight into the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Final, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.
Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games over seven seasons in the NHL.
The fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning learned in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final that they have nothing to fear as long as they play their game is a good thing, former NHL assistant coach Dave Farrish said. It should benefit them come Saturday, when they play Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
Farrish called the Lightning's 2-1 loss on Wednesday "a great education for them." He also said it's great for their confidence to know that they can make the Blackhawks vulnerable.
"They know they can play with them. They've answered that question," Farrish said. "They came out with a great explosion, and that gave them the confidence to know they can deal with whatever. But later in the game they got a great education about what it takes to play the full 60 minutes, to play the right way for the whole game. They're smart people and they're going to figure that out. Conversely, Chicago learned too that this is not a pushover team and they're going to have to be ready. I think they have a lot of respect now for what Tampa is capable of."
Farrish said he thinks the Lightning surprised the Blackhawks in the first period with their tenacity and ability to check.
Tampa Bay had a 1-0 lead on Alex Killorn's goal at 4:31 of the first period. The shots at 14:25 of the period were 10-3 in favor of the Lightning; the shot attempts were 23-5 in favor of Tampa Bay.
"They were really aggressive in the offensive zone and defensive zone," Farrish said. "They had great sticks. They played really well defensively, which I think a lot of people are becoming impressed with around the world. Everyone knew they were the top offensive team, but now they're showing they can play defense and you have to play defense if you want to win a championship."
The problem, Farrish said, is the Lightning might have gotten surprised at their own success and started to let up, to sit back. The Lightning players felt they were guilty of that in the third period, when Chicago scored twice in a span of 118 seconds to steal the win.
"Sometimes you get closer to the end of the game and start thinking, 'Maybe we can do this,' " Farrish said. "It doesn't take much with Chicago. You make one mistake or they get one lucky break, it doesn't matter. They manufacture goals. You know Chicago can do just about anything and they're a quick-strike team when they need to be. They certainly proved it."
The Lightning can be a quick-strike team too, with the firepower they have up front. However, Farrish wonders if the defensive structure they have adopted has taken away some of that firepower.
For example, Tyler Johnson, who leads the NHL with 12 goals in the playoffs, has no goals and three assists in the past five games. The Blackhawks did a particularly good job on his line, holding Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov to no points and two shots on goal.
"They're going to have to find that happy medium where they can let one trail into the other so they do a good job defensively but recognize their opportunities too," Farrish said. "I think they need to create more zone time. I don't think they're going to get as much off the rush as they have in the past because Chicago plays a pretty good backchecking game."
Farrish also thinks the Lightning will finally need some secondary scoring. Of Tampa Bay's 56 goals in 21 playoff games, 46 have come from the top-six forwards. Ryan Callahan had a breakaway midway through the third period, when the Lightning still had a 1-0 lead. He obviously didn't score.
"I think they're going to have to get some scoring from their defense as well," Farrish said. "They're capable of getting that from their back end. In today's game, teams are winning when they're able to generate scoring from their back end. A lot of times it'll be a forward who gets the goal, but a lot of it is generated from off the rush or joining the rush or a 'D' pinching down the wall."