Published 10:24 PM EDT Apr 14, 2019
The Stanley Cup current Tampa Bay Lightning are on the verge of one in every of the worst implosions in pro sports actions history.
The Lightning tied an NHL file with 62 regular-season wins and they may maybe maybe no longer recall a single playoff game.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, who done 30 substances within the assist of the Lightning, beat them three-1 Sunday to select a three-zero lead within the most efficient-of-seven Jap Convention quarterfinal. The Blue Jackets can discontinue a sweep of the Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC).
How unlikely is that this? The Lightning were the NHL’s top scoring team, boasted the league’s most efficient energy play and penalty abolish and had defeated the Blue Jackets three instances within the regular season by a cumulative 17-three catch.
Columbus additionally entered this postseason having by no manner obtained a playoff sequence within the franchise’s 18-season existence.
Thought: Three NHL teams including new gamers, probably difference makers in playoffs
More: The build possess the Lightning’s scorers long gone?
If the Lightning lose Tuesday, this may maybe be just like the Green Bay Packers going 15-1 in 2011 after which shedding by 17 substances to the Fresh York Giants of their first playoff game. Or, the 1990-Ninety one Minnesota North Stars, which went appropriate 27-39-14, beating the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks within the outlet spherical. Or, the 42-Forty Golden Yelp Warriors’ upset over the sixty seven-recall Dallas Mavericks in 2007.
Right here is why the massive upset is on the purpose of happening:
► The Blue Jackets possess elevated their game to a essential higher level than they showed for some distance of the regular season. They were no longer easy to play in opposition to, denying time and space to Tampa Bay scorers. Columbus gave us a peek of this at the discontinue of the season when it went 7-three-zero within the final 10.
► Among the many gamers to raise their game for the Blue Jackets is alternate closing date acquisition Matt Duchene. He has two targets and five substances in this sequence, and has been sturdy on faceoffs.
► Tampa Bay’s most efficient gamers haven’t produced. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Level and Tyler Johnson, who blended for 156 targets, don’t possess any targets within the sequence. Johnson has the most handy point, an assist earned Sunday. The Lightning haven’t conducted just like the Lightning. Kucherov bought himself suspended by the league for Sport three for a boarding incident in Sport 2.
► Coach John Tortorella has the Blue Jackets fired up. When he is motivating his teams within the playoffs, he brings the intensity. He demanded excellence from these Blue Jackets and they possess got given it to the Lightning.
► The Blue Jackets possess stayed disciplined. They handiest gave the Lightning one energy play replacement in Sport three. The Lightning type no longer possess an affect play purpose within the sequence.
► Columbus’ energy play, meanwhile, has stumbled on its invent. After ranking twenty eighth proportion-wise within the regular season, the Blue Jackets possess long gone four-for-Eight with the further man within the sequence.