For additional insight into the New York Rangers during the Eastern Conference Final series, 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.
Dave Farrish had a gut feeling before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
"It's funny because I said to my wife before the game, 'I bet you the Lightning win 6-2 tonight,'" Farrish said. "Honestly."
Farrish was spot on. The Lightning beat the Rangers 6-2 behind Tyler Johnson's hat trick that featured a shorthanded goal, a power-play goal, and an even-strength goal. Alex Killorn scored twice, Steve Stamkos had a goal, and Ben Bishop made 35 saves.
The Lightning scored four goals on special teams, including three on the power play. The Rangers' goals came on the power play. There were 12 minor penalties resulting in 11 power plays in the game.
"I just thought it was a little bit too easy [for the Rangers] the first game, a little bit of a light breath taken there, and I know Tampa, listening to their players and coaches talk, they really were not happy with the way they played and I thought you can expect a huge difference in their game coming into this one here," Farrish said. "So I just had that feeling. As soon as they scored that shorthanded goal I said, 'Oh, this is the night.' It was like a full moon, whatever can go wrong was going to go wrong. It happened."
Farrish thinks the Lightning made it happen as much as the Rangers allowed it to happen with turnovers, penalties and just general sloppy, uncharacteristic play.
He credited the Lightning's defensemen, particularly Victor Hedman, for playing a strong game all over the ice.
"They really contributed offensively and they played a much more solid game defensively protecting the rush from the Rangers and also doing a much better job in the defensive zone stopping progression," Farrish said.
He said Tampa Bay's group of top-six forwards talked about being difference makers and made themselves difference makers. He felt Bishop thoroughly outplayed Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (20 saves).
"Tampa came out really physical, they were executing better and they were certainly the more physical team," Farrish said. "It all started on that 5-on-3. The Rangers were tripping over each other, Marty [St. Louis] got the toe-pick and they got a goal off of that. That was kind of typical of how the game went.
"It's a game of mistakes in the playoffs. You make mistakes like that, kind of unforced errors, maybe even more accidents than mistakes, bad luck, bad timing, in the playoffs you end up paying for it. It's amazing in this game how many times you make mistakes and it ends up in your net. It really is crazy."
Farrish, though, felt the mistakes and accidents happened because the Rangers weren't ready to play the game the Lightning had talked about playing prior to taking the ice Monday.
From coach Jon Cooper to Stamkos to Bishop to defenseman Anton Stralman, the Lightning regretted their approach and actions in Game 1. Cooper said he felt they played it like it was the 53rd game of the regular season, not Game 1 of the conference final.
The talk prior to the game was about changing the mindset and getting into the battle. The Rangers were the ones on the outside in Game 2.
"I think they kind of played the way Tampa did the first game," he said. "I think they might have had it a little too easy and I don't think they were prepared for Tampa's tenacity and they just got off on the wrong foot. They were beaten in every department."
He said the fact that it turned into a special teams game hurt the Rangers because the matchups they were hoping to get as the home team got thrown out of whack.
"They never got into the rhythm of the game to keep their matchups," he said. "When you have to be special teams all the time, sometimes your better players have to sit and they get out of their rhythm and the matchups get all screwed up and it becomes all over the place. It seems like the advantage there went to Tampa because they didn't have to worry about matchups too much."
But all it means is the best-of-7 series is now even at 1-1 with Game 3 set for Wednesday at Amalie Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Farrish said he expects Game 3 to be tighter because both teams now know what can happen when they let their game slip.
"I think the winner of this next game will end up winning the series," Farrish said. "It'll be interesting to see how both teams play. On the road, I expect the Rangers to come back and play well because they've done well on the road all season, playoffs too. I think you'll see a real good game. Tampa will be better than they were in the first game and the Rangers will be better than they were in the second game. It should be a lot more even game and obviously both teams will be more aware of their bad penalties. I think it will be a lot tighter."