Colorado's Erik Johnson and Mikko Rantanen believe the Tampa Bay Lightning will bring its best game of the playoffs at home in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
- Hey, Erik, only 16 shots for Tampa Bay last night. What was working defensively for forwards, goalie, and defensively?
- Yeah, I mean, I think we had the puck a lot. I think that was a lot of it. We forechecked really, really well. We played it as a connected five man unit all over the ice, I think. And our forecheck was probably the key. I think when these guys on offense are pressuring the way that they have, it's tough to play against. So I think right from the GetGo, our forecheck was on, and I think that made the biggest difference.
- All right.
- You guys have talked a lot about fresh legs. How much is it-- do you feel that the impact of the fact you guys did sweep Nashville. You swept Edmonton, and kind of the rest that you've been able to kind of accumulate over this class.
- Yeah, I think it's physics that when you get rest you're rested. So I think you have a point there, for sure. If you play like every other day for a long period of time. It's going to wear you down. But they've been here before. They played two long seasons before this too. So we just got a-- we can't think about that too much that we're more fresh team. I mean, we just got to reset the game and it's 0-0 hockey game again and start of game 3. So you just got to get ready for that now.
- For both of you, can you talk about your team's discipline for the first two games?
- Yeah, I think you all saw them get a little bit more physical. And I think that's just gamesmanship on their part. They're trying to get it into four on four situation, and then maybe we take another penalty 4 on 4, and they get a 4 on 3 to get some momentum. So I'll play off long. I think we've played teams throughout the entire playoffs that have tried to get us off our game, and we're just going to take the first punch in the face and get the power play and skate away. So I think that's been our mindset. We're not going to get sucked into that stuff, and we will continue to not do that.
- Yeah. More to the physical toll of the playoffs. These guys who we're playing have played a lot of hockey, not just this year, but over the last three years. How much of that part of the game plan in trying to get on their defense and making sure that you guys take a body whenever you can?
- Yeah. Obviously, that's a big thing in class, and we don't really think about the fact that they've been playing long seasons last two years. And we're just kind of going at it like just with the simple plan just like Erik said, our forecheck has to be a factor in our speed. And last night, we did it. They had some trouble breaking the puck out and we just have to keep doing the exact same thing.
- For Mikko, how have you like your start in the series personally? And for Erik, coming off of a game like game two, do you have to guard against overconfidence entering game 3?
- Go ahead.
- Yeah. It's-- I've been-- I thought I've been playing pretty good the last two games, but it's far from over and it's individually very important to reset after every game and not think about the last game. You got to move past it, even if it's a good game or a bad game. So I think it's the mentality we have in the whole team.
- Yeah. I don't think that's an issue at all, overconfidence. I think every series, every game, we've taken it a game by game approach. We know there are a lot better team at home than they're on the road so we expect to get their best games here in 3 and 4. So from our standpoint, nothing changes. Our mindset has been the same all year long, all playoff long. So what are we confident about? We haven't won anything yet. So our mindset is the exact same it's been all playoff.
- Mikko, how much do you think your speed is caught them by surprise. You mentioned the forecheck, how much do you think that's something that may be a challenge that they haven't faced yet?
- Yeah, I think like last night we saw it, when we were skating the whole game. I think in the first game, we were good in the first, but then we kind of took our foot off the gas in the second and they were a better team in that period. But I think last night, just got to play like that all the time and just reload above the box all the time. It makes it tougher for them to get some offense going.
But we know, like Erik said, they're better team at home and we know they're going to come with their probably best game of the playoffs in game 3. So we've got to be ready for that. But Yeah, we don't have to change a lot. We just have to stay mentally focused and just go at it.