Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tampa - really? The Lightning are ahead again

Where did the Tampa Bay Lightning come from? Many predicted them to make the playoffs, but the conference finals? Well, we shouldn't be surprised. This team had a great regular season. They have snipers, strong role players, and picked up an experienced goalie at the deadline. All in all, Tampa has a great shot of moving on and winning the Cup. St. Louis and Lecavalier have already won it and are playing like they want another one. Adding players like Simon Gagne in the off season should not be underestimated. Gagne is a solid 2-way player, and when healthy he can play on a shutdown line and score goals.

I don't want to say I expected Tampa to make it this far, but new coach Guy Boucher has been taking steps since last summer to create a winning environment in Tampa. And it is working. Check out this article from last summer talking about Boucher's efforts to adjust the culture in Tampa.

Game 2 is huge of course. Tampa wins and they will move on. B's win and it's all up in the air. The Lightning are beginning to make a believer out of me. Winning three straight against the Pens and then sweeping the Caps? That is just as impressive as Montreal's run last season.

Tampa has that feel to them. They are finding ways to get it done. For example, Bergenheim has 8 goals. He has almost matched his regular season total of 10!

Expect the Lightning to come out loose and flying in Game 2. The Bruins will match them early, but will need to get a lead. Otherwise the pressure in TD Garden will be palatable. Without Patrice Bergeron Boston is vulnerable and Tampa is ready to take advantage. If Boston stays out of the penalty box and can get their nose in front their chances are good. But, if Tampa gets on the power play this series could be shorter than expected.

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