The lightning will explode when they are ready and ready

The universe is back in its proper order, which means gradually pushing our planet toward the sun with all the fun that this experience entails. But until that happy day, we still have the Tampa Bay Lightning to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The act has yet to be completed, as Tampa is up three games to two after losing its first two games to the New York Rangers. Bolts (and I’m still saying we should get them Ning and Geres trying to meet Lunch in ‘Nal’) reinstalled Andrei Vasilevsky as the world’s best goalkeeper after a brief but interesting flirtation with Igor Shesterkin, and twice defending a badass Overall they take a slow but stifling grip on the series.

That’s too bad in some ways, as the shimmer and liveliness of New York would provide a nice wash for the mighty Coloradii family, who are all that too. But in hockey, young people are rewarded only when they are well advanced and ready to let the reward in, and it always takes a little longer than you think. Nathan McKinnon looks like a kid but has been doing it for nine years now, and Gabriel Landskog in his eleventh season. The Avs family members are not very old but they are not young anymore; Their recent match history is full of disappointment and underachievement at times, but in Hockeyville, that’s a test run as well. They are looking for the moment as if they are in their prime, but they are not far from that faint whiff of ointment and chamomile tea. I think they were where Tampa was in 2019, only Darcy Comber not Vasilevsky. This could be the beginning of a new era, or it could be a sharp lesson about what it takes to be king: having to kill a king.

But Tampa has really started the aging process based not only on birth certificate information but the extra season and a half they’ve played in the post-season since 2014. They know how to do it almost instinctively now, and that wisdom, which can usually be encapsulated by watching three shifts Ondrej Balat, makes them look old and as stunning as the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs, who won the cup with six regular players and two over-36 goalkeepers. By that funny definition, no team has ever been that old.

Lightning gave that we got that vibe even in Game 1 of the series, which they lost 6-2. Vasilevskiy, 27, looked overall horrible and seemed to define what had been a solid season for him, but head coach John Cooper, every realtor I’ve seen face on the cart, seemed unconcerned and unhurried. Even as the Rangers won the match 2, 3-2, Cooper had that adorable smile that smelled of “Okay, you’ve got our attention now,” and since the first game, all the talk about New York’s Kid Lane from Alexis Lavrenier, Philippe Chettle, faded away. Kabu Kaku. In other words, whatever implant was nibbling Vasilevsky’s inner ear was excised, and in front of him the other seventeen bolts seem calm and capable of driving in that “veteran leadership” some kind of nonsense.

For Ranger fans, who are used to having their hopes up as a prelude to put their faces against their skis sharpener as penance for believing they have good things coming, it will take a massive reversal of form to keep them from golfing with a brew of beer. Instead of a neighborhood pool party with a trophy. It’s not that they don’t look ready to win, it’s just that ‘readiness’ requires an opponent who is either less prepared than you or doesn’t have a black hole in the goal to deflect any puck shot in their direction. Only Lightning is, well, more prepared, and if Saturday goes as the series progresses, the final will begin next Tuesday between the two better prepared and more experienced teams on the roster.

If it helps the Rangers, though, the last time a team won the first two games of a series then lost the next three and still wins, it was the Washington Capitals in 2018. The team they beat was the Tampa Bay Lightning, who wasn’t t … Ready Until now. See how this works? You are not ready until you are, and when you are you will know.

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