These teams both swept their Conference Semifinal series. They both needed 7 games to win their Conference Quarterfinal series. They're an interesting matchup. The best goalie, some of the best defensemen, against a collection of highly skilled forwards.
The Lightning are like the Canadiens, only better. Whereas the Habs were fast, the Lightning are fast AND highly skilled. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos were each in the top 5 in points this year, with 99 and 91, respectively. They get additional production from the likes of Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Simon Gagne, and 3rd line winger Sean Bergenheim, who's scored 7 goals this postseason.
Tampa Bay's Power Play is 11 for 45 (24.4%) in the postseason. And their Penalty Kill is 51 for 54 (94.4%). That's the biggest reason they've gotten this far. And in order to stop the Lightning, you have to reckon with their Power Play.
The Canadiens were troublesome to the Bruins. It was a close, 7 game series, with 3 overtimes. Just one unfortunate bounce of the puck, and the B's would have been eliminated. And now the Bruins are facing a team that's similar to Montreal's style, but much more talented.
Fortunately, the Lightning struggled with the Penguins. Who are like a slightly less talented version of the Bruins. The Penguins are physical, but don't have the potential to score like the Bruins do. They also don't have Tim Thomas. Don't get me wrong, Marc Andre-Fleury is one of the best playoff goalies in the business, but he has a tendency to utterly suck at least one game in a series. In a pivotal Game 5, Fleury allowed 4 goals in 25 minutes. The Lightning won 8-2 and never looked back.
With Thomas, that's not much of a likelihood. And he's capable of winning a game all by himself, as we saw in the Flyers series.
For the Bruins to win, they need to play physical and value possession of the puck. I'd rather see a 30 second possession in the offensive zone that results in 0 shots as opposed to a 5 second possession that results in 1 token shot from the blue-line.
The Lightning can roll two very talented lines, so Chara and Seidenberg will be worked hard. Guys like Boychuk and Ference have to step up on the defensive front. And they can't make mistakes. Turnovers will result in goals.
No stupid penalties. And the Power Play has to at least make the Lightning work hard for 2 minutes.
Without Bergeron, the Bruins need everyone else to step up. Krejci looked great against Philadelphia. Lucic finally scored. Marchand and Horton need to continue their good work. Ryder has to be more consistent. We'll see what Seguin can do. It would have been nice if he had more ice time this year, even in the AHL. But we've seen playoff newbies like Marchand thrive, why not Seguin?
I think Thomas steals a game, the Bruins are able to slow down the Lightning Power Play, push around small Lightning forwards like Stamkos and St. Louis, and win this series in 7 games. Sorry, Phil.
Hockey doesn't belong in Florida anyhow, especially in May.
Saturday 5/14 8:00pm - Lightning @ Bruins - Versus
Tuesday 5/17 8:00pm - Lightning @ Bruins - Versus
Thursday 5/19 8:00pm - Bruins @ Lightning - Versus
Saturday 5/21 1:30pm - Bruins @ Lightning - NBC
Monday 5/21 8:00pm - Lightning @ Bruins - Versus
Wednesday 5/25 8:00pm - Bruins @ Lightning - Versus
Friday 5/27 8:00pm - Lightning @ Bruins - Versus