Eastern Conference Finals: Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

While we wait for the Sharks, Wings, Predators and Canucks to finally settle who’ll play in the Western Conference Finals, we already know who will go at it in the east. Both the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning swept their way into the ECF, the Bruins knocking off Philadelphia in four games and the Lightning doing the same to the top-seed Washington Capitals.

It was the first time a number-one seed had been swept in a playoff series since the current conference-based format began in 1994.

Boston entered into the postseason as the third seed and Tampa Bay fifth, but both had identical 46-25-11 records and 103 points. That was good enough for the Bruins to win the Northeast Division crown and for the Bolts to finish second in the Southeast.

Tampa Bay’s 247 goals were one more than Boston tallied, but the Bs only gave up 195 goals while the Lightning allowed 240.

The Bruins took three of the four games played between the two. On November 11 the Lightning won 3-1 and December 2 the Boston pounded the Bolts 8-1. Then on 28th of December Mark Recchi scored a power play goal with 19.7 seconds left in the third period to give his team a 4-3 victory and last March 3 it was Milan Lucic scoring with 3:42 remaining in regulation time as the Bruins won 2-1.

Your pick in the ECF

  • Boston Bruins (74%, 403 Votes)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (26%, 140 Votes)

Total Voters: 543

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Lucic, who led the Bruins with 30 goals this past season, did not score a goal in the last ten regular season games and failed to find the net in the first ten playoff matches. However, he potted a pair in the 5-1 game-four win over the Flyers last Friday.

After snapping out of his scoring drought, he was quick to give thanks to his teammates for their support.

“My teammates, especially my linemates with Krejci and Horton, we’ve been able to create so much chemistry here”, he said. “They always have my back, and even for them, times were tough this year. I had to lift them up, and just tell them to relax, and that was the same sort of thing.”

“They had my back, and they just told me, ‘It’s going to come. Just keep sticking with it.’”

Tampa Bay, who trailed Washington for only 26 minutes and 15 seconds during the four game sweep, comes into this series riding a seven game winning streak. Boston has won five consecutive and eight of their last nine after falling behind the Montreal Canadiens two games to none in the opening round.

Both teams have gotten outstanding performance in goal during the postseason. Tim Thomas is 8-3 with a 2.03 GAA and .937 SV%. However, Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson has been just a tad better statistically, 8-3 with 2.01 GAA, .941 SV% and 1 SO.

While I’m sure the Bolts’ skaters appreciate what Roloson has done for them this spring, he has nothing but praise for them as well.

“You call it whatever you want, relentlessness, willpower, desire, whatever word you want to use, but what I think it just comes down to is not being afraid to lose”, the 41-year old netminder said of his teammates. “The guys are not afraid, they are going out, they are playing and putting everything on the line day in and day out.”

“When you do that, it makes for a tough [team] to play against.”

Patrice Bergeron , who leads the Bruins with 12 overall points in the playoffs, will miss one possible two games with a concussion. This means rookie Tyler Seguin will see his first ever NHL playoff action. Brad Marchand, Davis Krejci and Nathan Horton each have 5 goals. And defenseman Zdeno Chara is a +11 and averaging a team-high 28:41 TOI.

Martin St. Louis leads team with 13 overall points, 6 goals 7 assists. Sean Bergeneim’s 7 goals leads the Bolts, Vinny Lecavalier has 5 goals and 7 assists, Steven Downie is a +9 while defenseman Eric Brewer’s 26:09 TOI leads the Bolts.

As for the outcome of this series, the only thing I’m really sure of is that it’s unlikely to end in the fashion both teams experienced in the second round…a sweep. This once should be fun to watch with plenty of action and will probably go deep, six or seven games.

I’ll go with the Bruins to win in six. If I’m right we’ll then get a chance to see former Thrasher Rich Peverley, who was traded to Boston in February, perform in the Stanley Cup Finals.

139 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

May 9th, 2011
9:15 am

Red Light-I think the Broones are going to miss Bergeron a great deal. Cheap shot will keep him out of the series. Bolts have goaltending – unlike the cheap shot Flyers.

World Be Free

May 9th, 2011
9:17 am

I owe Marty St. Louis an apology-I said he was not worthy of an extension for several more years in September. The little guy proved me wrong, as he did to so many hockey folks early in his career. He’s the real Mickey Mouse.

litz

May 9th, 2011
9:39 am

I’ll go opposite Rawhide and pick TBL in six …

hockeygoon79

May 9th, 2011
9:41 am

Bolts in seven.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Baldheaded Thrasher Fan

May 9th, 2011
9:59 am

With Bergeron out I’m going with the Bolts in six!

Hope that Nashville can take the west to make it a Southern finals,but my best guess is the Canucks.

Jeremy

May 9th, 2011
10:01 am

I’m going with the bolts in 6. This is going to be a great series no matter who wins.

David Cox

May 9th, 2011
10:51 am

Bolts in five. With Bergeron out I don’t see Boston winning either of the first two games.

Rawhide

May 9th, 2011
10:59 am

Baldhead Thrasher Fan & David Cox – I can understand why Bergeron being out would swing your vote toward the Bolts. I even thought about that myself. However the Bruins are a pretty balanced bunch and should be able to weather his absence for a game or two. It’ll be a problem if he’s out longer.

Either way, this should be a fun one to watch.

World Be Free

May 9th, 2011
10:59 am

Bolts in 5
Don’t really like the Broones (dislike the Flyers more)

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 9th, 2011
11:11 am

Every time I see St. Louis hit in the face with a stick, I think that the rules should be changed that a high-sticking penalty should not be called when the hit-ee is 5′8″ or shorter (lol).
(He is listed at 5-8, but I doubt he is that tall!)

moriler

May 9th, 2011
11:22 am

One up, one down. Stupid Flyers. Bolts in six for this one — they can’t sneak up on anyone anymore, but the Brooyuns are way too banged up to hang in there if Tampa wants to go fast.

hockeymom92

May 9th, 2011
11:26 am

Bolts in 5. Still crossing fingers and toes for Preds….

Kenneth Williams

May 9th, 2011
11:29 am

Under normal circumstances I’d take Boston due to their defense and goal tending. Tampa Bay and Roloson can match the play between the pipes, he was a game changer when picked up by the Lightning.

I will go with them over the Bruins in seven wonder to watch games.

Mr. Heat Miser

May 9th, 2011
11:35 am

The mere thought of the remote possibility of Shane Hnidy getting his name on the Cup makes me queasy.

Tom Lysiak

May 9th, 2011
12:06 pm

Hmmm, hate ‘em both. Guess I’ll have to pull for Pevs to score the series winner in the 3rd period of OT, 7th game.

Eagle man

May 9th, 2011
12:07 pm

Bolts in 4 I dont take anything away from boston they are a good team but I never seen the bolts more hungry for this and yes it will awsome to watch lets hope the refs call a fare game that has not been there strong suit this year

ben

May 9th, 2011
12:29 pm

I’m so busy, I truly don’t care. But I’d like to see the Bruins in the Stanley Cup. (If I had time to watch it that is.

DOM

May 9th, 2011
12:32 pm

Bruins in 6!

Goal tending should be the difference and the 2011 vezna trophy winner “to be” will prevail! Chicago took care of business last year, and this year it’s the bruins turn! The “B’S”fans have waited along time and are ready for a champion!

Mat"T"

May 9th, 2011
12:34 pm

Joe Friday

May 9th, 2011
12:35 pm

they’re still playing hockey?

Rawhide

May 9th, 2011
12:36 pm

DOM – My pre-playoff prediction was that the Bruins would skate the Cup this year. I see no reason to alter that now.

Been a long time coming for Bs fans, that’s for sure.

Red Light

May 9th, 2011
12:50 pm

This is simply a tremendous match-up as both teams have an older veteran goalie, four very capable lines and even the defensive pairings are similar. The Bergeron injury could be a factor, but as it is a slight concussion I am not as worried as I might normally be. In addition, Gagne and Kubina are still a bit banged up for Tampa, so I call it a wash right now.

The Lightning are 9-18-1 against the Bruins since 2003-04, which was the last time they won the season series vs. the Bruins. In fact, I believe that the Lightning have only ever won five games in Boston since their inaugural season and Lecavalier, St. Louis, Kubina, Stamkos and Malone are a collective -32 in 173 career games vs. the Bruins.

Tim Thomas is 10-4 lifetime against the Lightning but Roloson has been even better against the Bruins but he hasn’t played many times against them. But, if I am Boucher, I have serious concerns about which line and which defensive pair is going to face Lucic, Horton and Krecji. On the flip side, of course we all know Chara and Seidenberg will see Vinny, Marty and Stamkos a bunch in the series, and since Julien gets the last line change as the home team in four of the seven games, that could be a factor. The Bruins also have been better in the faceoff circle than the Bolts too.

The biggest concern facing Boston is that their power play has been brutal and Tampa’s PK unit has been sensational. And if the Bruins don’t stay out of the box, the Lightning will dominate because the Bolts’ special teams have carried them through the first two playoff series. Clearly, the Bruins have been decidedly better at even strength than any team in the playoffs. And, I love the fact they are 4-0 in overtime so far, and two of the wins came on the road.

I have to stick to my guns and side with the Bruins, although I wouldn’t mind seeing Tampa Bay advance. The Bruins will prevail in a hard-fought seven-game series, and two of their four wins will come in overtime. The long layoff really helps the Bruins top pair who are averaging more than 28 minutes per game, and maybe they’ll get Bergeron back earlier than expected.

Boston in 7.

World Be Free

May 9th, 2011
1:18 pm

Broones aren’t going to get the cheap goals they recvd in the Philly series. I think our boy Bergenheim is going to stay on pace for that nice contract he’s looking for. I think the Bolts’ 3rd line is going to play a big part in this series. Nathan Horton has had a few days to read his press clipping too- order him a bigger helmet.

This series could ultimately hing on the play of Milan Lucic. He showed signs of waking up after the Flyers were pretty much dead. he could swing things and force the Bolts into more line matchups.
Bergeron’s injury will force some line shuffling, showing us how Claude Julien will adapt to the loss.

alex

May 9th, 2011
1:28 pm

good to be thrashers player, instead of taking brutal beating on hockey ring, just fish, women and and beaches, by the way i fell sorry for don, usually because he in this time not in playoff he on travel to Europe for world champ. to do his scouting on behalf of thrashers (results is huge, see thrashers record). i believe he missed Europe this time. are dud here?

World Be Free

May 9th, 2011
1:31 pm

Also, the events of the past week make one thing very clear-that the Bolts are now the team to beat in the Southeast Division going into next fall. Caps are now looking up at the Bolts with some major decisions to make on their roster. Semin is untradeable with his one year deal and reputation for hiding under a rock.

Holmes

May 9th, 2011
1:34 pm

Didn’t the B’s whoop the Bolts all regular season long? And Tim Thomas is playing out of his mind?

B’s in 5

Sage of Bluesland

May 9th, 2011
1:39 pm

Am pulling for the team Cornsheep has sworn up and down all year was overrated and that the lowly, pathetic Thrashers were ‘better’ than: Tampa Bay Lightning.

Yeah, sure. Any alleged credibility lost on that constant bleating….which has turned out to be utterly laughable and unforgettable….

Go Bolts. To the team which was worse than us upon the inception of Don’s first “Five-Year Plan”…Got better–to the point of winning a title–in his second “Five-Year Plan”…Got worse again–and have now built up yet again…during Don’s third “Five-Year Plan”.

Sense a pattern here, folks? Never let it be said I didn’t tell you so. However, are any of you even listening?

(Not based on the continued hopeful, yet laughably misplaced, optimism…)

Hoof Arted

May 9th, 2011
2:23 pm

This is a tough one. I want the Bolts to win but I really think it’ll be the Bruins. I’ll go with Boston winning it in the third OT period of game seven.

Pack a lunch gang, this ones going to be fun.

World Be Free

May 9th, 2011
3:02 pm

Sage-playoffs have not been the same without your revolving input-welcome back.

I am not a Jeremy Roenick fan, but I have to say he has been OK for VS, so far in the post season. A big thanks to JR for calling out Marleau last night-called him “gutless” -totally and completely right on. Shoulda tossed in lazy loafer too. The Euroes in this series are skating rings around the Canadian Marleau. Kronwall needs to deck Marleau too, but he might go back to the bench and cry. Waiting for Don Cherry to chime in, should be fun.

Brendan

May 9th, 2011
3:26 pm

I’m 6-4 right now. And I could go 0-4 for the 2nd round, if SJ and Vancouver don’t closeout. That said, I trail Red Light and Rawhide by 3 series, with 3 left. I can’t catch them by AGREEING with their picks. So, in George Costanza-like fashion, I will do the “Opposite.” (I never do well on the picks, anyways, avergaging 8.6 wins and 6.4 losses per year.)

My head tells me that defense still wins Championships in hockey, and that Rask/Thomas is better than anything TB can muster in net. The regular season GA tells me that Boston should win the series. That ’should’ be the end of the analysis.

But, knowing the NHL as I do, the worst possible TV-ratings matchups tend to be what happens in the Finals. It’s been tremendously fortunate, recently, for the NHL to have the Red Wings in the Finals in 2008 and 2009, along with a mighty return for the Chicago Blackhawks, after years of futility. The best possible scenario is a Boston-Detroit Finals. The worst is a TBL vs. SJS/Nashville Finals.

The Southeast Division has actually done fairly well over the last 14 seasons, in terms of sending a team to the Finals. This would be Year 15, upcoming, and five (5) SE division teams have made it in. Those were the Panthers in 1996, the Capitals in 1998, the Hurricanes in 2002 & 2006, and Tampa Bay in 2004. That’s about one-third (1/3) of the time. The SE Division has been shutout for the past four seasons running, so … I could see that, perhaps, the SE Division is due for another appearance in the Finals.

But here are a few reasons why I think the Tampa Bay Lightning just might really do it. “The 3-Year Rule.” What, duh? Yes. The “3-Year Rule.” In 2001, the Bolts were DEAD LAST. By 2004, they won the Cup. Carolina was DEAD LAST in 2003. By 2006, they won the Cup. In 2007, Philly was DEAD LAST. By 2010, they reached the Finals. Philly lost the draft lottery in 2007 to Chicago, who “3-years later” won the Cup. Now, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Washington was DEAD LAST in 2004. They did not reach the Finals in 2007, nor have they in the four years that followed 2007. The St. Louis Blues were last in 2006. They haven’t reached the Finals, either. But Tampa Bay was DEAD LAST in 2008. They selected Stamkos. They picked up Hedman, 2nd overall, in 2009. They retained St. Louis, Lecavalier from their Title year. They added Simon Gagne, Dwayne Roloson. They have committed ownership, a good GM, and a good coach. This all adds up to success. I’m a bit surprised just how well it came together for the Lightning this season, but the results are certainly there.

But, it’s not just the “3-year rule,” and “The NHL never gets the TV-ratings matchups it needs.” Or that “TBL drafted well.” For me, it’s this little nugget. Coming into the playoffs, and even as far back as PRESEASON, I had the two teams to beat in the East as (1) Washington and (2) Pittsburgh. How did the Lightning get here?? Answer: Via Pittsburgh, trailed 3-1, in the series, and Washington, whom they swept. Flukes?? I wouldn’t say that. By the time a team wins the 4th game of a series, the losing team is plum out of excuses for it.

So, let me ask you bloggers, are the Tampa Bay Lightning merely “this year’s Montreal Canadiens?” That is, someone who knocked off top challengers Washington and Pittsburgh, only to meet their doom in the CF? I can respect that argument. That’s exactly how Montreal got to the CF last season. I just think there’s something special about this Bolts team. They win on the road. They don’t appear ‘nervous.’ They’re a solid bunch. So, if Roloson’s goaltending can carry them, who knows how far they’ll go? Imagine if it’s TBL vs. Vancouver, and the Lightning stick it to Canada again, just like in ‘04?

Now, I’ll admit that, on paper, Boston is the better team. Some of the most relevant stats favor Boston. They won the regular season series. The GA is far, far better for Boston. Bruins have home ice. Statistically speaking, the Bruins haven’t reach the CF since 1990, so they’re overdue. They haven’t won a Cup since the Bobby Orr-era, in ‘72. I won’t cry if the Bruins win. I’ll be happy for them. They’ve been a # 1 seed fairly recently (2008), and in the playoffs consistently, and in the CSF consistently. Boston ought to be rewarded for their efforts, driven to show last year’s collapse vs. Philly was an aberration. The NHL would benefit by a Bruins appearance in the Finals. As far as “Power Rankings,” I probably would have put Boston 3rd in the East, behind Washington and Pittsburgh. So, with those clubs eliminated, Boston does sort of become the “heir apparent” for the East.

Pick: Bolts take Game Seven in Boston. We’re left to scratch our heads, from our preseason picks, and utter, “might as well use ‘coin flips’ to determine the winners of these series, because they’re just not PREDICTABLE.”

b'S DIE HARD

May 9th, 2011
3:31 pm

bRUINS WILL KILL THEY AREN’T ALL bERGERON! Lucic will kick butt and b’s will win

B’s in 5

Riff

May 9th, 2011
3:34 pm

Speed Kills.
Bolts in 6…

b'S DIE HARD

May 9th, 2011
3:35 pm

Savard is done. His career is over, But i bet the b’s will dress seguin in Bergerons place. With all the injuries to boston tampa WOULD have an advantage… but the bruins have the best goalie, wings, and d in the league, not to mention they owned tampa all season.

And to all atlanta fans
Thanks for peverly

kracker

May 9th, 2011
3:38 pm

I take Bruins because of Peverley. Plus, it’s difficult to root for a div rival, especially TB.

Old Time Hockey

May 9th, 2011
3:40 pm

It all depends on Roleson. If he continues this kind of stand-on-your-head play, they will be tough to beat. He was the best player in the playoffs a few years ago until his playoff knee injury. Thomas has been good, but…..

b'S DIE HARD

May 9th, 2011
3:50 pm

Old time hockey,

Roleson STINKS compared to thomas. Bolts have st louis, stamkos and lecalvelier but they cant score on thomas they are all -34 scince 04

Flagstaff

May 9th, 2011
3:56 pm

b’s DIE HARD: Roloson doesn’t stink at all. Not in the playoffs, anyway. He’s the main reason they were even able to clear Round One.

That being said, Boston is my second team, and I hate Tampa, so I’m picking them in 6. Here’s hoping Rich has a great showing.

PatHenry52

May 9th, 2011
4:06 pm

Bruins in 5
Split the first two, middle 2 wins in OT.

glovesave29

May 9th, 2011
4:07 pm

Not sure I would go so far as to say Roloson stinks…remember, it was Thomas that was on the trading block last summer. BOS fans were ready to throw him onto the scrap heap and ride Raask for the next decade. B’s are certainly stronger in the net, but the loss of Bergeron cannot be understated. The Bruins do possess the superior roster, but the Bolts are playing great, team hockey right now. Hard to see this going anything but the full 7 games. But the Bruins will wear them down and make it to the SCF.

Before you go about gloating over the acquisition of Peverley, you need to remember that Wheeler FAR out performed him after the trade was made. The added pieces of Stuart for Valabik tilts the trade pretty strongly in our favor. That being said, Pevs was a HUGE fan favorite down here, and I cannot wish the man ANYTHING but all the success. It would make this fan pretty happy to see him get to lift the cup. But with VAN, DET, and SJ looming in the west, I can’t see it happening – but stranger things have happened.

glovesave29

May 9th, 2011
4:09 pm

Someone please go shut CViv up…he’s just spoon feeding the Winnipeg / Canadian media hype. What is he doing? Is this his audition for a new gig in Manitoba?

JohnBoy

May 9th, 2011
4:19 pm

CHARRAAAAAAAAA

Zombie Steve

May 9th, 2011
4:24 pm

Was a Looch/B’s fan before earlier this year when Milan got owned (cleanly) by Freddy Meyer and decided to pitch a fit about it. I’ll go with the Bolts in 7.

World Be Free

May 9th, 2011
4:25 pm

Glovesave-thank you and thensome.
What happens in Phoenix means very little here, if anything at all.
Just give the idiots in Winnipeg and expansion team and let them stink for 5 years (or more) like we did. Then we will see what a great hockey town Winnipeg is.

b'S DIE HARD

May 9th, 2011
4:38 pm

Flagstaff: Didnt say he stunk, just thomas is superior
And to Glove save: Seguin is well ready to play in bergerons place after seeing no ice time so far he’ll be eager to play

like i said before Bs in 5
2 ot game winners 1 by Pevs 1 by Rechi

glovesave29

May 9th, 2011
4:43 pm

WBF – even that report on TSN.ca last summer gave Winnipeg a hard time saying that when times were lean with the Jets, the fans stayed home in droves. This massive passion for the NHL is revisionist history. Let us remember the Jets made the playoffs in 11 of 17 seasons. This was in the era of 16 of the 21 teams qualifying for the post season. They made it with point totals like 59, 73, 74, 78…numbers that today would have them eliminated by February. Let’s see how much enthusiasm there is in Manitoba to plunk down $150 per seat for a game vs. Florida in late March. In today’s NHL – they would have likely made the playoffs just twice…with 96 and 88 points.

The cries of being pawns in this game coming from Winnipeg are getting laughable. The Winnipeg and Canadian media are the sole source of these stories’ origins. No owner has come out and said that Winnipeg was an option. All have expressed desires to stay in their current homes. The league (save a comment by Bill Daly in February – and he was quickly silenced) has said the same…stay put. Players are coming out and saying they do not wish to play there. It’s not a bad town…but that is just it…Winnipeg is a town and the players are used to cities. Demographically speaking it is perfect size for the AHL. Their metro population as of the 2006 census is about equal to that of metro Atlanta…in 1930!

b'S DIE HARD

May 9th, 2011
4:44 pm

Glovesave, who’s your pick in the west??????

I say Boston and San Jose
det cant battle back

b'S DIE HARD

May 9th, 2011
4:50 pm

glovesave i agree
Canada gets credit for all the great teams but when was the last canadien teem to win the cup?
Wonder if the b’s could get zetterberg for savard hes dun anyway

b'S DIE HARD

May 9th, 2011
4:53 pm

Hockey Biltong

May 9th, 2011
5:30 pm

Kill the midget!

Red Light

May 9th, 2011
5:38 pm

There is an inherent problem with blogs, not this one, but many of them that litter the Internet. When you read an article, a post or an opinion and there is absolutely no attribution from other people discussing the subject (such as direct quotes or terms like, according to …), then you can surmise that it is only an opinion, not a fact-based piece.

Personally, I welcome the introduction of a fact-based, attribution laden article about the entire Winnipeg-Phoenix-Atlanta saga. Until I see one with updated comments made within the past few days of when anything is posted, rather than citing comments and BS from earlier in the season, etc., and hear directly from someone at True North that they are committed to working out a deal with the Coyotes or the Thrashers, I will continue to ignore the pink elephant in the room until negotiations begin in earnest.

So much has been written (space wasted) about this subject that it has become tiresome, redundant and has become nothing more than writers, bloggers, etc. preying upon the fans in all three cities who want real answers.

If someone truly knows what is going on, it would be nice to hear it, rather than the constant conjecture we have been subjected to over the past year or more. I’m sure the Coyotes and Jets fans feel the same way.