It only seems fair that this series went to seven games. Going into this series, the Tampa Bay Lightning seemed like an incomplete (but talented) team carried by timely scoring and great goaltending. Yet more often than not through the first six games, the Boston Bruins have played that role instead.
Both teams are familiar with this situation. The Bruins hosted the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 after fighting back into that first round series before dropping Game 6. The Lightning played their other Game 7 on the road thanks to their moxie in elimination games.
Boston should feel pretty good about their offense, with David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron trading off strong performances. Zdeno Chara has been a difference maker as usual, but aside from his sturdy but unheralded partner Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins’ defense has been surprisingly error-prone. Tim Thomas is the main reason those problems haven’t been fatal … yet. If the Bruins make their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1990, it will probably be on the back of another elite performance from Thomas.
Tampa Bay should go into Game 7 with even more confidence in their offense. They’re getting great production from expected sources such as Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne, but lesser-known standouts such as Teddy Purcell, Steve Downie and (when healthy) Sean Bergenheim are making a big difference too. Much like the Bruins, Tampa must worry about their defense and goaltending. Dwayne Roloson pushed his elimination record to 7-0, but he’ll need to play much better to make it 8-0.
Want a rundown of this series? Here are links to each recap.
Hockey fans can delight in at least one more beloved Game 7, which you can watch on Versus at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. As you dream of all the possibilities, we must know: who do you think will come out on top in Game 7? Let us know in the poll below.
Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’
Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.
The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.
He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)
But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.
“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.
“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”
Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.
Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.
Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.
As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.
At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.
That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.
On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.