Ramblings: Palat Goal Forces Game 6, Farabee Surgery, Coaching News (Jun 25)

Ian Gooding

2022-06-25

Tampa Bay remains the defending Stanley Cup champion for at least one more day, and we get to watch at least one more playoff game. Ondrej Palat scored the game-winning goal at 13:38 of the third period to give the Lightning a 3-2 win in Game 5, reducing the Avalanche series lead to 3-2. Look at how wide open Palat is on this goal.

If Valeri Nichushkin is the darkhorse Conn Smythe candidate on the Avalanche, then Palat fits that description for the Lightning. Palat leads the Lightning with 11 playoff goals, while he is second on the team to Nikita Kucherov with 20 playoff points. Moreover, Palat also leads the Lightning with 18 even-strength points, as he wasn't bumped up to the first power-play unit until late in the second round and has just one power-play point since the first round. Palat is benefitting from a team-high 23.9 SH%, while no other Lightning player has a shooting percentage higher than 15%. Yet as long as Palat is scoring, he will be on the top line with Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

One downside of multiple Stanley Cup runs is that free agents become more difficult to retain. Like Nichushkin with the Avalanche, Palat is improving his stock as he continues to score in the playoffs. Palat's overall production actually declined this season (0.64 PTS/GP) compared to last season (0.84 PTS/GP) and he is now on the wrong side of 30, but general managers have a short memory on free agent frenzy day anyway. Both Palat and Nichushkin could make it impossible for their respective teams to re-sign, but that's a problem for another day. Both teams have a Stanley Cup to try to win.

Speaking of Nichushkin, he added another goal and assist in Game 5, giving him nine goals in the playoffs and four in the five games of the Cup final. Nichushkin also took five shots, giving him 21 shots in the series. One Colorado beat reporter stated that he saw Nichushkin carted to the x-ray room, so his status for Game 6 might not be all that certain.

Cale Makar had the same statline as Nichushkin with a goal, an assist, and five shots. He also registered six hits, which is his highest single-game total of the playoffs. Makar has at least five shots in each