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2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs: May 18 Bolts @ Rangers

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Where's Drouin?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Eastern Conference Finals schedule:

Game Date Time Location Network
2 Monday 5/18 8 PM MSG NBCSN, CBC, TVA
3 Wednesday 5/20 8 PM Amalie NBCSN, CBC, TVA
4 Friday 5/22 8 PM Amalie NBCSN, CBC, TVA
*5 Sunday 5/24 8 PM MSG NBCSN, CBC, TVA
*6 Tuesday 5/26 8 PM Amalie NBCSN, CBC, TVA
*7 Friday 5/29 8 PM MSG NBCSN, CBC, TVA

From War on Ice's game report for the first game in the series:

5x5

Team GF SF MSF BSF SCF CF ZSO HIT PN FO_W TOI
NYR 2 26 12 16 18 54 13 28 4 20 49.5
TB 0 19 7 11 13 37 12 15 1 24 49.5

Power Play

Team GF SF MSF BSF SCF CF ZSO HIT PN FO_W TOI
NYR 0 2 1 1 1 4 1 0 0 1 2.3
TB 1 2 4 2 5 8 4 0 1 4 5.4

Shot Attempts

Player corsi

Given the above information,

But now let's talk about another story that's been ricocheting around the press box.

Where's Drouin?

There's a journalist in Tampa that is kind of incendiary. He tends to take small stories and blow them out of proportion, giving misleading interpretations of events so that fans have something to buy the paper for. His name is not Steve Simmons, but it could be. Tom Jones' current article is entitled, Jonathan Drouin soap opera could have big effect on Lightning's future, and it raises a pretty decent point for a change. Jon Cooper has indeed scratched Drouin for twelve of fourteen playoff games so far, to the mystification of Tampa fans who want the 3rd-overall pick to bloom like the flower he is. Jones writes:

"What are the 20 guys that we think are going to help us win tonight?" Cooper said. "Sometimes (Drouin is) in that 20. Sometimes he's not. … Offensive skills, there is no question he's fun to watch. (But) there's more than one net in a rink. There are two. So you have to be able to play in front of both of them."

There are knocks on Drouin's game. His defensive skills have been questioned. His toughness has been questioned.

But he seems too good to be sitting.

So why has Drouin been scratched, to the point where Cooper is sick of the questions and responding with snark like "There's more than one net in a rink. There are two"? (Listen to this snarky fellow's video here.)

Does Drouin agree with Cooper? Nope. Drouin says: "It’s up to them, my game’s fine, I want to be in every night and play every game, but it’s not up to me." (ESPN)

I'd speculate that it's because Cooper wants to pull the same thing he did to Nikita Kucherov, and make Drouin so humble and frustrated that his sophomore year becomes as dazzling as Kucherov's. I'd also speculate that Cooper is playing people like Brenden Morrow and Jonathan Marchessault in place of Drouin because he likes his 3rd and 4th lines to be full of #GRART (I can't figure out what else Morrow brings). As you can see above, the 3rd and 4th lines (with the exception of my favorite rat, Cedric Paquette) got OWNED by the Rangers.

Is this the right decision? Right now, even the more experienced Tampa players are getting hemmed into their defensive zone by a tight and ruthless Rangers forecheck. The Bolts have made it this far on the shaky play of exhausted goaltenders like Carey Price (and massive PDO from Tyler Johnson's line), but Henrik Lundqvist looks very calm as he bats away the few high-quality chances the Bolts get.

Why not play Drouin if the Bolts are gonna lose this round to the more experienced playoff team and an incredible goaltender who spits in the face of PDO?

And if he's not played, will Drouin say "fuck this shit," break his contract, and head to the Colorado Avalanche to reunite with his eternal BFF and best line mate, Nate MacKinnon?

"I don't want to leave ... I'm happy here," [Drouin] said. "There's four teams left right now, we've got a chance to win a Stanley Cup, I’m part of it and I just have to be ready." (ESPN)

Oh. Well, uh, is he at least a little sad?

"It’s just being ready, practice hard and make sure when my opportunity comes I just grab it."

WOULD YOU GIVE US MORE OF A STORY, DROUIN? GEEZ.

In conclusion, it reminds me of someone. A skilled junior player who came into the league at age 18 and immediately got scratched; someone who had to add strength and bulk and two-way play before he could really add to the team. Who could that be?

Stamkos scratched