Brian Boucher respects the Tampa Bay Lightning’s chances in the Stanley Cup playoffs because they won the Stanley Cup last season, but acknowledges their path to repeat could be difficult even as the forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are back in programming.
Kucherov has not played all season due to hip surgery he underwent on December 29. Stamkos has missed the last 16 games of the regular season with a lower body injury.
“I’m worried,” Boucher said. “Although they’re coming back and while it’s great news, especially Kucherov, he’s going to try to catch a moving train here and their first-round opponent in Florida, they’re a good team. They have had a fantastic season and (Joel Quenneville played this team well, so it’s not a first-round game for them. There’s going to be a bit of rust, timing in Kucherov, even a player. as tall as him so that’s a worry for me. Stamkos, you still have to worry about his health. We have seen that last year has been a tough year for him and now the injury this year.
Boucher said another concern for the Lightning was the defenseman Victor Hedman, the potential Norris Trophy favorite this season who has not played the last two games due to a lower body injury.
“Looks like he’s going to need surgery out of season so he’s clearly got something to do and will he be the Victor Hedman we’re used to seeing?” Said Boucher. “It’s not the same team that hummed in the bubble last year. “
Boucher is optimistic about the Vegas Golden Knights’ chances, especially given their goaltender. Vegas alternated departures between Marc-André Fleury and Robin Lehner since March 29 and Boucher said he saw no problem keeping this model in the playoffs.
“You can’t go wrong on this one,” Boucher said. “There are other situations in which I have explained to you who to play, but in this one you can’t go wrong. These two guys are fantastic keepers. Dude, you can just rotate them if you want to. It’s literally the luxury that (Coach) Peter DeBoer has in goal. I don’t see any problem. “
Boucher also doesn’t expect Fleury or Lehner to make it a problem if he doesn’t play.
“Both guys want to play, there’s no doubt about it, but if they don’t play they’ll be ready,” said Boucher. “They’re both professional enough to know their team is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. There is no reason to hurt your stomach. The situation is what it is.
“DeBoer, he can close his eyes and throw a dart on the board and whoever he lands on starts that night and he’ll be perfectly fine.” “
Boucher has also given opinions on a number of other topics, including thoughts on why the Toronto Maple Leafs should be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, which he thinks he will. happen. Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabers, and why the New York Rangers fired coach David Quinn on Wednesday.
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