"It was a tough first game for us with all of the elements of getting across the country and all that didn't give us much of a chance," Trotz said about last year's start. "As the series went on, we were getting better and we were getting more dangerous and we were doing all of the things we said we were going to do. We just ran out of runway in my opinion."
While the two teams have returned largely the same squads, one of the key differences will be the presence of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who missed all but one game in last year's playoffs - including the conference final - and the absence of Islanders captain Anders Lee, who has been out since March with a torn ACL.
Stamkos (13 points) is Tampa Bay's second-leading scorer behind Nikita Kucherov (18 points), giving the Lightning another dynamic piece. The Islanders have grown accustomed to playing without Lee and have gotten seven playoff goals from Kyle Palmieri to help fill that void, but the captain equation is one that could slightly tilt the otherwise close series.
The Islanders will also have the benefit of a healthy Casey Cizikas - who left the series after Game 2 - and Adam Pelech - who was injured in Game 5. On the flip side, the Lightning have a healthy Brayden Point, who missed Games 3 and 5, the two games the Islanders won.
ISLES VS BOLTS GM 1
STREAKING INTO SEMIS:
Kyle Palmieri is riding a five-game point streak (4G, 2A) and a three-game goal streak going into the semifinals. Linemate JG Pageau is on a three-game point streak, with four points (1G, 3A) over that span.
Brock Nelson has three goals in his last four periods, so the center is also riding a hot hand into the semis. Linemate Josh Bailey has four points (1G, 3A) in his last two games.
Noah Dobson has four assists on a three-game point streak, while Nick Leddy has assists in two-straight games.
Semyon Varlamov has won three-straight games, stopping 91-of-98 shots over that span (.928SV%).
With Tampa Bay's power play clicking at 41.7%, the Islanders underscored the importance of staying out of the box.
The Lightning are 15-for-36 with the man advantage and have scored a power-play goal in eight of their 11 games. They've also scored two-or-more power-play goals five times this postseason.
The Islanders' penalty kill was at 50% during their series with the Bruins (7-for-14) and allowed a power-play goal in five of the six games. The best defense against Tampa's thundering power play will be to stay disciplined, something the Islanders have been good at this postseason.
The Islanders have been shorthanded 26 times through 12 games, the second-fewest total among second-round teams. The Islanders were penalized 135 times during the 56-game regular season, second-fewest in the NHL (Columbus 133).
"You don't change your game, but you can't take useless penalties, penalties 200 feet from your net, high-sticking or tripping penalties, those you just can't take," Trotz said. "We didn't stop their power play, but we were able to limit it to reasonable, acceptable numbers where you have a chance to win. When they're hitting at 40 or 50 percent that's unacceptable."
WAHLSTROM SKATING, STILL DAY TO DAY:
Oliver Wahlstrom is skating, but is considered day-to-day, per Head Coach Barry Trotz.
"He's getting very close to be available," Trotz said.
Wahlstrom has been out since suffering a lower-body injury in Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders' coach said he's been pleased with how his team has played in Wahlstrom's absence, a testament to the organizational depth.
"Right now, if Wally were healthy, there's no guarantee he gets back in the lineup right away," Trotz said. "It may be based on play, what Tampa's trying to match up and the results we get. Right now, I'm pretty happy with our group and [Wahlstrom] included. It'll be a tough decision, but we'll walk through every situation that we would use a player."
The Lightning have increased capacity at Amalie Arena to 14,800 for the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
While the Lightning will have home-ice advantage for the first time in this year's playoffs, the Bolts have been road warriors in the postseason. Tampa Bay is 5-1 on the road so far, including three wins at Carolina's PNC Arena.
Nikita Kucherov is riding a three-game point streak, with six points (2G, 4A) over that span. The Lightning's leading scorer has been a force in the playoffs, with a league-leading 18 points (5G, 13A). Kucherov has points in nine of Tampa Bay's 11 games this postseason.
Brayden Point is also riding a three-game point streak, with five points (3G, 2A) over that span. Point leads the Lightning with eight goals in the postseason and is tied with Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Marchand for the playoff lead.
The Lightning had a full complement of players heading into the semifinals.
Source : https://www.nhl.com/islanders/news/game-1-preview-islanders-at-lightning/c-3253148381301