During the first round series with Florida, Barclay Goodrow missed the first five games. Dealing with an upper body injury, he came back for Game 6. It was the only shutout of the series. Coincidence? Not to Coach Jon Cooper who called Goodrow the Lightning’s four wheel drive Jeep. “You can’t have all Ferraris” Cooper said explaining his Jeep analogy.
When asked, Goodrow liked the description, humbling saying “I think they’re pretty reliable cars”. Cooper’s comment just scratches the surface. When the team is stuck in the mud, a Ferrari might not be getting you out. There’s many a times, a Jeep is exactly what you need. Goodrow has been back two games. The first was a series clinching shutout and the other a series opening win. Yep, sometimes a Jeep is not only what you need but exactly what you want. That was the case in Game 1 of the second round against Carolina as Goodrow scored the third period game winning goal.
During the Stanley Cup run last season, the third line for the Lightning was their best. Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Goodrow were the most effective third line in the postseason. Game after game, Goodrow and his line mates grabbed the momentum of every game. They didn’t just grab it, they clutched the hell out of the momentum and refused to let go. They didn’t let loose until it and the Stanley Cup was theirs and by extension, the whole team’s Cup.
Cooper began starting them every postseason game. Why not? The energy this line plays with is infectious for the rest of the team. It may seem hyperbolic but who among you believes they win the Cup without them. Sure, the Ferraris need to run at maximum performance for Cup success. Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy did not disappoint. Point and Hedman were the front runners for the Conn Smythe, MVP of the playoffs. Hedman won but no one would have been surprised if it had been Point.
There were also rumblings that Vasilevskiy could have been in consideration for the Smythe. Who can forget the Stamkos goal against Dallas in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup last year? That goal was Sports Illustrated’s Play of the Year. Kucherov? Well he was Kucherov, the Ferrari with all the bells and whistles.
Any extended playoff run is going to be grueling. There will be games where a garage full of Ferraris will not perform at maximum level. This is where the Lightning’s four wheel drive Jeep and his linemates excel. It could be a pesky forecheck or a speedy back check. Maybe it’s a blocked shot on the penalty kill. Every once in a while it may even be a game winning goal.
Kickin’ The Tires on the Lightning’s Four Wheel Drive Jeep
There were some Lightning fans who never heard of Goodrow when the team acquired him last year. Many of them thought a first round draft pick was too high a price to pay for a guy they didn’t know. Cooper didn’t hesitate to test drive the new Jeep and Goodrow scored a point in his first Lightning game.
Goodrow has embraced the Jeep comparison. Saying they have a “high resale value” as he’s becoming an unrestricted free agent after these playoffs. Safe to say that his current cap hit of $925,000 is going to climb higher. You know, like four wheel drive Jeep’s do. Back in the day, guys like Goodrow were called the lunch pail kind of player. These are the kind of players that roll up their sleeves and do the things that need to be done. In my preview of the Carolina series, I pointed out that success in the playoffs relies on the bottom forward lines. In this series, which team’s third or fourth line will step up?
If last year was any indication, the Goodrow, Coleman and Gourde line is primed to play a significant role yet again. With Goodrow back and healthy, I’ll take the Lightning’s four wheel drive Jeep and his line over all the rest. We need the Jeeps and the lunch pail guys. If the Lightning has hopes of a long, successful playoff run, gas up the Jeeps and the pickups and the Big Rigs.
There are rough and bumpy roads ahead. Yes, we also need the Ferraris because well, they’re freaking Ferraris. Cooper is smart enough to get his bottom six tuned up, so they’re humming for the inevitable potholes. Give me Goodrow and his grit. Gourde and his never ending energy and Coleman for his sandpaper.
The Jeep Specs
Need a blocked shot, Goodrow lays it out without regard for himself. Have to kill a penalty? We see Gourde, Goodrow and Coleman play like we expect them to score a shorty. Fall behind in a game? This Jeep puts it in four wheel drive to help his team navigate the rough terrain known as the NHL playoffs.
As you watch the Lightning and Goodrow give us their best to repeat, remember the name Ozzy Weisblatt. He’s the player selected by San Jose with the pick they acquired from the Lightning for Goodrow. Look, Ozzy could turn into a Ferrari or a Lamborghini or a Tesla down the road. But give me our tricked out Jeep. It always turns over. Handles very well and we can hook a tow and ask it to help haul a big load.
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