As the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils shifts to the Prudential Center for Game 3 Monday night, one team espouses change while the other is quite fine with the status quo.
It is not hard to determine which team is which after the Lightning held serve on home ice, winning the first two games. Now it's up to the Devils to change the narrative as the series shifts to Newark, but that may be easier said than done.
The Lightning took Game 1 by a 5-2 score and then ran out to a four-goal lead in the second game on Saturday before finishing the Devils off 5-3. Over 120 minutes of playoff hockey, the Lightning have not trailed for a single second.
"You approach every game at a time, and we're just focused on the next one right now," said the Lightning's Tyler Johnson, who scored a goal in each of the first two games. "We're not focused on what we did the first two games. It's what we're going to do in the next one."
That business-like approach is echoed throughout the experienced Lightning dressing room. Not only did this team finish first in the Eastern Conference this season, but the roster swells with players that played in recent Stanley Cup and conference finals games.
That experience showed in the first two games as the Lightning handled momentum swings in a smoother fashion that far-less experienced Devils. And it could be a big advantage as the Lightning look to put a stranglehold on the series with a win Monday night.
"Just because you won the first two games at home, that's not a paved path saying you're going to win Game 3," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "The best we played (Saturday), we're going to go five percent better to win on the road."
While the Devils had surges in the opening two games in Tampa, there is much room for improvement up and down their lineup. In fact, the lineup deployed by Devils coach John Hynes in the first two games, will be shaken up Monday night.
Hynes told reporters on a conference call Sunday that there will be changes made, though he declined to specify which players might be in or out.
"There are some guys who just haven't performed well enough to warrant staying in the lineup," explained Hynes. "We're a team, we need to play as a group. We can't have passengers. We can't have guys not necessarily playing as hard as they need to in the competitive areas of the game."
Veterans Ben Lovejoy and Michael Grabner might be in danger of watching from the press box in Game 3. Both have struggled, and Grabner logged only 8:56 worth of ice time on Saturday.
Adding some intrigue to who may, or may not, play in Game 3 is that the Devils signed 2016 third-round pick Joey Anderson to an entry-level contract on Sunday. He will skate with the team Monday after recently helping the University of Minnesota-Duluth win the NCAA Championship.