Streaking Bolts and B's to battle for Prince of Wales Trophy
How They Got Here…
Round 1: Defeated 6) Montreal in 7
Round 2: Defeated 2) Philadelphia in 4
Round 1: Defeated 4) Pittsburgh in 7
Round 2: Defeated 1) Washington in 4
Bruins won (3-1-0)
Previous Playoff Meetings…
First playoff meeting
BOS: Patrice Bergeron, 12 pts (2 G, 10 A) … TB: Martin St. Louis, 11 pts (6 G, 7 A)
Bruins (2/37, 5.4%) … Lightning (12/45, 26.7%)
Bruins (33/41, 80.5%) … Lightning (51/54, 94.4%)
Tale of the Tape…
Edge: Lightning… They have a great combination of top-end skill and grit, and are getting contributions throughout the whole lineup.
Edge: Bruins… Both teams have great systems, but Zdeno Chara is the difference.
Edge: Even… Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson are a combined 78 years old, but have been on their A-game this spring.
Edge: Lightning… The Bolts’ units are both top-notch, while Boston’s man advantage has underachieved.
Edge: Even… Guy Boucher and Claude Julien are both new to this situation, but have pushed the right buttons through two rounds.
Edge: Even… Neither club has an edge here as they possess a handful of playoff veterans.
Edge: Even… Patrice Bergeron is out with a concussion (return date unknown), which is a big loss for the B’s; key veterans Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina are banged up for Tampa.
Keys to the Series…
1. Offense from defense… Boston will start this series without Bergeron, their leading point-getter. Everyone will have to step up offensively, including the D-men. Yes, I’m looking at you, Zdeno Chara and Tomas Kaberle.
2. Stay out of the box… The Bolts have the best power play out of the remaining teams, while Boston’s PK is suspect. Julien’s gang will have to be allergic to the penalty box.
1. Shut down Boston’s top line… With Bergeron down, no one knows what to expect, production wise, from Boston’s second line. Tampa Bay’s blueline needs to do what they can to slow down a top line that is gaining steam.
2. Roloson out-duel Thomas… These teams are pretty even, especially between the pipes. Without home-ice, Roloson will need to outplay Thomas – just like he did against Marc-Andre Fleury and Michal Neuvirth.
Milan Lucic… The power forward got off to a slow start, collecting just two points in seven games against Montreal. But Lucic started to turn it on in the second round. He scored twice in Game 4 against the Flyers and boasted a +7 rating in the four games. Between Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton, Boston’s top line has been red-hot of late. If ‘Looch’ gets going, look out!
Steve Downie… Who sits behind Martin St. Louis for the team’s lead in points? Not who you’d expect. Downie has 12 points in 10 games and has behaved himself throughout the playoffs. 11 of those points have come after a one-game suspension. Downie’s success has been overshadowed a bit by linemate Sean Bergenheim, but the energetic 5’11” winger can’t be ignored in this series.
Zdeno Chara vs. Martin St. Louis… If nothing else, the size differential between the 6’9” Chara and 5’9” St. Louis will make this fun to watch! These are two of the better players at their position remaining in these playoffs. Chara has elevated his game as the postseason has gone on, while St. Louis has been consistent over the last two rounds. Look for them to see a lot of one another in this series.
Why the Bruins will win…
Boston’s five-on-five play is top-notch; their even strength goals for/against ratio (2.32) is ridiculously good. It’s had to be that good because of the lackluster man advantage. Speaking of which; the power play now has some confidence after scoring in two straight games after going scoreless in the first nine. The top line is hitting its stride and they have the depth to soften the blow of Bergeron’s absence. Now that the B’s are in their first conference final since 1992, you have to wonder if the flood gates will open.
Why the Lightning will win…
Boucher’s Bolts are the hottest team in the NHL. Ever since going down 3-1 to the Penguins in the first round, they have rattled off seven consecutive wins, all in different ways – whether it’s high scoring or having Roloson carry them. If the depth continues to succeed like it did against Washington, they’ll have the ability to generate goals. Steven Stamkos, who has been up and down in these playoffs, will be an important player for Tampa. If they can beat the well-balanced Capitals, why can’t they beat Boston?
It seems like we’ve had about a month to survey this matchup as both clubs are coming off respective sweeps. This series definitely has the potential of going the distance. In the end, I think Boston will get it done. This is taking nothing away from the Lightning, who could easily prevail. But I’ve liked the structure of the B’s all year, and think they’ll claim the Prince of Wales.
PREDICTION… BRUINS IN 6
Photos credit: Getty Images
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