TAMPA – One big question facing the Lightning heading into its Stanley Cup quarterfinal series against the Devils that begins at 7 p.m. tonight at Amalie Arena is how it will stop Devils' left wing Taylor Hall, he of the 39 goals and 93 points.
And, is there a danger of paying too much attention to Hall and risk letting his linemates have a big series?
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Hall "drives his own attention."
"Speed is an asset for him," Cooper continued. "You just have to be wary of when pucks are put into space for him. He's a guy who skates into them. You have to be on top of him all the time so he can't get those first three, four steps, because he will get by you.
"I'm sure they're looking at (Steven) Stamkos and (Nikita Kucherov). We're looking at Hallsy and a bunch of other guys on that team. Is there going to be attention paid to him? No question. But on the other side of things, we're not playing Taylor Hall, we're playing the New Jersey Devils. He's a big part of it. There's a lot of guys on that team you have to be aware of."
The Lightning will likely begin with the Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson line on agains the Hall line, which also includes center Nico Hischier (20 goals, 52 points) and right wing Kyle Palmieri (20 goals and 44 points).
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"It's a skilled line with a lot of speed, tons of speed, so you have to stay above those guys and take away their time and space and not let them wind up, because once they are wound up like that, it's tough to stop them, tough on our D to stop them," Point said. "And they are competitive guys, so it will be a tough matchup for our guys, but hopefully we'll do our best."
Cooper said he is not "married" to having one line on Hall's line the entire series, because if it does not work, the Lightning better make the right adjustment.
"In the big picture of all this, don't worry about who you are playing against, just better fight through it," Cooper said, "because you're going to see different guys."
Contact Roger Mooney at [email protected] follow @rogermooney50