This is game one of the second a very exciting series. The Canadiens beat Ottawa Senators in 6 in round one. And the Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings in 7. During the regular season these teams met head-to-head five times, and all five times the Lightning won. They are 5-0 against the Gabs, with one win in overtime.
The major storyline here is that Canadiens would’ve liked to avoid this matchup, due to the season sweep and not having an answer to Stamkos’ Lightning. They lost this season by a combined score of 21-8 and that’s pretty impressive against a dominating Habs team. The Lightning are looking for revenge for their first-round sweep by the Canadiens last year. The reason it’s possible they might exact it is that Ben Bishop, who missed last year’s series with a torn ligament in his right wrist, was in the net this year for all five games against Montreal. He beat Carey Price time and time again, who is a Hart Trophy finalist for the NHL’s most valuable player award. Price and Bishop are two of the five netminders who posted goals against averages under 1.95 in the first round so this should be a low scoring affair. The last time the Habs raised the cup, the Lightning were a first-year expansion team in 1992-93. Tampa Bay since has won a title in the 2003-04 season.
The Key Players:
They key players for Montreal are Max Pacioretty. Tying for fifth in the league with 37 goals during the regular season, Pacioretty scored twice in five games after missing the series opener against the Senators with an upper body injury. He made up for that absence with great play later in the series.
Tampa Bay’s obvious key player is Steven Stamkos. He’s the NHL’s regular season runner-up in goals with 43, after Ovechkin, but strangely enough he was limited to three assists in the seven games against the Red Wings, where instead Tyler Johnson took control of the offense scoring six goals. Expect Stamkos to burst out in round two.
They were heavy early favorites in their first round match against the Red Wings, so it’s not a shock that they advanced. A surprise from that round was the dramatic fashion in which they beat the Wings, needing a full seven games, which also had a pair of goalless efforts from the Bolts and from Stamkos.
The Habs went up early in their first round series against the Senators and thought they had it in the bag, winning the first three games. The games were close each won by one-goal margins. A 1-0 Habs loss in Game 4 gave the Senators life, and a 5-1 Game 5 victory made a Sens comeback possible after a Cinderella season. But Carey Price put an end to those dreams in Game 6, turning aside all 43 shots that he faced. A weird stat: the Habs gave up the first goal in the first five games of the series and only scored one first period goal.
Montreal has a storied tradition, a super goalie and a resolute determination in this match up after almost being usurped by Ottawa, Price knows he has to stand tall against the onslaught. The Lightning have a bucket of skill at every position and Stamkos having not been a factor in round one will surely change his tune against the Habs.
Our Pick: Lightning win in Game One