Round 2 Tactical Preview Pt.1
FLA-TBL & COL-STL
Florida vs. Tampa: Power Play Faceoffs
With the health of dynamic puck carrier Brayden Point in doubt, look for TBL to slow the play down and grind FLA into the ground. Invariably, FLA’s power play (zero goals in the first round) will need to get going, as to provide deterrence against TBL’s physicality and stick work.
FLA’s top unit has struggled to create shot volume of late, producing only 35 shots on net per hour against Washington instead of 53 shots/hr in the regular season. One contributing factor: opting to take the first OZ faceoff of a 5v4 on the right side of the ice instead of the left.
In the first round, the Panthers typically had deadline acquisition Claude Giroux, a righty, take the first faceoff on his strong side. Giroux is skilled faceoff taker, but after a clean win, only FLA13 Sam Reinhart is available for a quick one-timer.
Early in the regular season, with Giroux still playing for Philadelphia, it was FLA16 Sasha Barkov, a lefty, who was Florida’s PP1 center. After winning a faceoff at the left dot, he escapes coverage, pops out to the right flank and quarterbacks the play. Eventually the Panthers create a scoring chance.
St. Louis vs. Colorado: Attacking the Girard-Manson Pair
Sam Girard and Josh Manson did fine against Nashville in the first round, but were Colorado least dominant 5v5 D-men during the series sweep. Look for them to struggle at times against STL’s four-man rush offense, creative in-zone movement and heavy net-front presence.
When defending the rush and addressing high cycles, COL49 Girard’s first instinct is to surf out, attach to the threat and use his stick to force a turnover. COL42 Manson, on the other hand, is most comfortable retreating to the net and using his much larger frame to physically dominate static opponents.
A savvy STL team may look to play between both D partners, catch one or both of them in no-man’s land, then use the confusion created to funnel the puck to net.