By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Lightning have lost a major piece of their defensive corps for Game 2. And the Bruins have gained a big opportunity to take full command of the series.
Boston was able to hold on for a 3-2 victory in Game 1, despite the presence of Lightning defensive stalwart Ryan McDonagh. But now, Tampa head coach Jon Cooper confirmed that after departing Game 1 due to injury, McDonagh will be out of the lineup for Game 2.
McDonagh averaged 27:29 of ice time in the round robin and Tampa’s opening-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, tops on the team. He still leads the Lightning in ATOI, despite playing just 15:05 in Game 1 against the Bruins. He’s also one of the team’s top penalty killers and was a key piece to their defensive mastery of the Bruins’ top scorers in Tampa’s playoff series win in 2018.
The Bruins power play got the best of McDonagh and the Tampa penalty kill in Game 1. Patrice Bergeron undressed him for what proved to be the game-winning goal in the third period, stripping McDonagh of the puck and feeding it to David Pastrnak, who slipped it to an open Brad Marchand for the score.
But, clearly, Tampa is better off with McDonagh in the lineup than without.
Cooper told reporters that McDonagh did not skate at all on Tuesday, leaving his status in question for the second night of a playoff back-to-back in Wednesday’s Game 3. He also declined to name who will enter the lineup in McDonagh’s place. Brayden Coburn is next in line for left-shot defensemen on the Lightning roster. Coburn is a big-bodied, capable defender, but he’s no McDonagh.
The Bruins have a chance to take advantage of the downgrade on Tampa’s back-end with McDonagh out. If they can take a 2-0 series lead with no return in sight for McDonagh, the Lightning would be hard-pressed to come back in the series.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.