The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning have shut the lights on Toronto and moved to the NHL’s other bubble in Edmonton, where the final two rounds will take place.
Though there out west, the game times will be traditional cover-as-many-time-zones-as-you-can starts, beginning with an 8 p.m. EDT start tonight for Game 1.
A few traditional questions cover most general previews of the series:
- Can the Islanders continue their stingy defense against the high-powered Lightning?
- Can the Islanders continue to score three goals a game against a hot goalie and a defense that is better — and less prone to mistakes under pressure — than the Flyers’ blueline?
- Will the Lightning be rusty / Will the Islanders be gassed after playing Game 7 in Toronto and opening in Edmonton two days later?
Two specific questions for each lineup:
- Will Steven Stamkos return? (No. He’s been ruled out for the entire series.)
- Who will the Islanders start in goal? (Hmmm...)
The prevailing wisdom on that question seems to be with Thomas Greiss, who stood on his head in Game 4 against the Flyers and was unblemished in a fairly undemanding 16-save Game 7 shutout. Contrast that with Semyon Varlamov allowing some early goals in several games of the Flyers series, and you’d think they would go with Greiss.
Stu Grimson actually summed the argument up succinctly on NHL Network:
Who should start in net for the @NYIslanders in Game One? @Jackie_Redmond, @EJHradek_NHL and @asgrimson discuss on #NHLNow! pic.twitter.com/qpJpj3XAcN— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) September 7, 2020
Regardless, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Barry Trotz go back to Varlamov either tonight or, if Greiss starts, after the first loss —given how they’ve kind of anointed him #1 down the stretch of the regular season and then again coming out of bubble camp.
For now though, the Islanders just have to “get to their game” and hope whoever’s in net gives them a chance.