Key Matchups-

John Tavares and Victor Hedman go head-to-head in this second round matchup. Tavares has the edge by a small margin. In previous matchups against the Lightning he’s narrowly beat Hedman in scoring and possession. Hedman is a two-way defenseman who can create some serious offense. Hedman will be expected to play an excess of 25 minutes per game to keep Tavares at bay while it will also be put on him to up his game offensively and contribute on the power play.

An additional matchup to watch out for is between the team’s respective goalies, Thomas Greiss and Ben Bishop. Both teams have confidence in their goaltenders as they have proven that they can stop pucks to prop their teams up for wins. Greiss gave up just 13 goals on 234 shots in the first round for a 1.79 goals-against average and a .944 save-percentage. Bishop faced 160 shots against Detroit, allowing eight goals in five games for a 1.61 GAA and .950 save percentage. It will be interesting to see how these two do on opposite ends of the ice from each other in this series, but with Bishop posting a save percentage no lower than .916 and a goals-against average no higher than 2.37 in any month this regular season. He has the edge over Greiss.

Tampa Bay Lightning-

The Lightning have proven that one or two players do not make a team’s success by pulling through the first round without their best player Steven Stamkos and their second-best defenseman Anton Stralman. That is a testament to the tremendous depth that this team boasts. Stamkos is unlikely to return during the series; though he has been seen practicing, he is still on blood thinners and cannot take contact as of yet. He has been out since having surgery on April 4th to treat a blood clot near his right collarbone, but the Bolts topline has held up offensively in his absence. Stralman is out with a broken left fibula and the void he left on the blueline has been hard to fill. Stralman is second only to Victor Hedman in importance on the Tampa Bay blueline. He effectively moves the puck and he’s defensively sound while he has the ability to produce offensively, as evidenced by his nine goals and 34 points in 73 games this season. Stralman has not skated since his injury, but may return during this round. J.T. Brown is sidelined with an upper-body injury as well. That all being said the Lightning are not worried without these players as the team has already pushed aside the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first round. This is a team with depth and no one player carries it through with or without the players currently missing.

Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov made their mark in the first round against the Red Wings, scoring 10 of the Lightning’s 12 goals. Kucherov had five goals, and his eight points led the Lightning. Killorn had three goals, and Johnson tied a Lightning record with four points in Game 2, and had seven points (two goals, five assists) in the series. Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula, and Jonathan Drouin all made contributions. Drouin had four assists in the first round; three came in Game 4, including one on Palat’s game-winning goal. He had 13 shots in the series, but it’s important that they do more to improved secondary scoring to compliment the top line.

The Lightning defense struggled with giveaways in the first round, forcing goalie Bishop to make some difficult saves. Bishop made 34 saves to help Tampa Bay close out its first-round series against Detroit with a 1-0 Game 5 victory. It was the fourth Stanley Cup Playoff shutout of his career and the third to end a series. The Lightning also blocked 82 shots in the five-game series; many of them on the penalty kill, with forwards Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan leading the way. Both teams like to play a fast game and both fight to the finish, so there will be potential for high scoring and overtime.

NY Islanders-

The New York Islanders have not been in the second round since advancing to the Wales Conference Final in 1993. They lost seven straight first round series before ending the Florida Panthers playoff run in six games. John Tavares’ efforts pushed the Isles through the final months of the season with 14 goals, 29 points and an average ice time of 20 minutes over the final 29 games of the Islanders’ season. Tavares then scored when New York needed it most in the post-season. He scored five goals and nine points in six games, and racked up 34:49 minutes in the Game 6 victory.

Right wing Kyle Okposo had a goal and five assists in six games and is expected to be one of the most sought after free agents in the offseason; especially if he continues to perform well in New York’s continued playoff run. Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy form a powerhouse top three; each racking up minutes on the ice. Nick Leddy had three assists in six games and played nearly 80 minutes combined during the final two games of the series, and he boasts a phenomenal skating ability that’s become a great asset to his team. Leddy is paired with Travis Hamonic. Hamonic is solid at both ends of the ice. He played more than 39 minutes in the double-overtime win Sunday. Johnny Boychuk adds experience and leadership as he was a Stanley Cup Champion in 2011 with the Boston Bruins, and although he struggled early in the first round he seems to have found his stride. Calvin de Haan is a smart player and continues to show a willingness to sacrifice himself in order to make a play; de Haan blocked 18 shots in the first round. Secondary scoring will be needed in this round. It will be important for players to get shots on goal even if they aren’t pretty.

Tampa Bay cannot match New York’s muscle and physicality from their blueline to their checking forwards. Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin are brutal on the forecheck. The Isles averaged 43 hits per game in Round 1, more than every team except the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers. Tampa averaged 29.

The Islanders were 23.8 percent (5-for-21) with the man-advantage in the first round. Thanks in part to Greiss, New York had a strong penalty kill in the first round going 13-for-15. Jaroslav Halak continues to heal from a lower-body injury as Thomas Greiss’s effectiveness in goal has made the argument that he should retain the starting position in Round 2 regardless of Halak’s health.

Prediction: Lightning in 6

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

Read our analysis of the Lightning and the Islanders Round 1 matchups to learn more about these teams.

Key Matchup-

Nikita Kucherov vs. Pavel Datsyuk will likely to be the main story of this series. Kucherov has become an offensive threat for the Lightning over the last season. Datsyuk is a legend and still has impressive two-way play and has no issue getting shots on net. The two Russian players will keep the series interesting.

Detroit Red Wings-

Winning Formula: 

The Red Wings thrive when they pursue the puck and keep control the way they had under Mike Babcock. Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still two of hockey’s most elite two-way forwards and the Lightning will find their hands full dealing with the two talented players. Dylan Larkin will likely remain a force on the team adding numbers to the scoreboard throughout the series.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

Detroit has been inconsistent over the last year under new coach Jeff Blashill. The Red Wings were a team with an identity that lead to success before Blashill took over, but since the team has struggled to remember the legacy they are and how they got to that point. They remain a top ten possession team, but they rely heavily on Datsyuk and Zetterberg for wins and when in the playoffs two players aren’t going to keep a floundering team afloat.

Tampa Bay Lightning-

Winning Formula:

Victor Hedman has been a powerful defensive force for the Bolts. Hedman’s partner Anton Stralman fell to injury, but the fan’s shouldn’t be worried overly as Hedman has shown he is capable of doing his job in Stralman’s absence leading up to this series. Steven Stamkos is out one to three months with a blood clot and he will be missed, but fortunately for the Lightning have tremendous depth and are able to produce from every line.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  

The power play seems to be the bane of the Lightning’s existence. As of late March, they were third in the league in time spent on the power play while they had the worst success rate of all the teams in the playoffs on the power play. The Lightning focus heavily on defense during the power play and lose the opportunity for offensive production.

Prediction: Lightning in 6

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

PhotoGrid_1445901689018

  • The Flyers beat the Bruins 5-4. Claude Giroux scored his second power-play goal of the game at 2:09 of overtime to give Philly the win. Giroux one-timed a shot past Tuukka Rask from the left circle with Ryan Spooner off for hooking. Philadelphia overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period. Giroux cut it to 4-3 at 7:48, and Wayne Simmonds tied it at 9:36. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Sam Gagner also scored for the Flyers. Chris Kelly, Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, and Patrice Bergeron scored for Boston.
  • Sabres beat the Maple Leafs in a shootout, 2-1. Evander Kanetied it with 4:29 left with his first goal for Buffalo, and Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout to beat Toronto. Kane pushed a wrist shot past goalie Jonathan Bernier. Chad Johnson made 23 saves to help Buffalo improve to 2-4. P.A. Parenteau scored for Toronto, and Bernier made 34 saves.
  • Jason Spezzascored his fifth goal of the season as the Stars beat the Penguins 4-1. Johnny Oduya and John Klinberg scored their first goals of the season and Mattias Janmark got his third. Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots. Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh.
  • The Rangers beat the Coyotes 4-1. Kevin Hayesbroke a tie early in the third period. Chris Kreider, former Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and Rick Nash also scored for New York. Nash’s goal was his 700th career point. Mats Zuccarello added two assists. Henrik Lundqvist contributed with 34 saves. Klas Dahlbeck scored for Arizona.
  • Thomas Vanekbroke a tie in the second period and the Minnesota to beat Columbus 3-2. Zach Parise scored 5:04 in. After Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Dubinsky countered for Columbus, Nino Niederreiter tied it, and Vanek scored the winner with 8:48 left in the second. Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves; while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the Blue Jackets.
  • Blackhawks beat the Panthers 3-2. Patrick Kaneand Brent Seabrook each had a goal and two assists. Artem Anisimov also scored for the Stanley Cup champions, and Corey Crawford made 16 saves. Jaromir Jagr and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida.
  • The Capitals beat the Canucks 3-2 when Alex Ovechkinbroke a tie with 4:55 left. Jay Beagle pulled Washington even at 5:42 of the third, and Ovechkin won it with his fifth goal of the season. Jason Chimera scored in the first for the Capitals, but Radim Vrbata and Henrik Sedin each had a goal and an assist in the second for Vancouver. Braden Holtby made 23 saves for Washington.store2
  • The Devils beat the Senators 5-4 in a shootout. Lee Stempniaktied it with 32 seconds left in regulation, and then contributed the winning goal in the shootout. Adam Henrique pulled New Jersey within a goal with 5:50 to go. Travis Zajac and Jordin Tootoo also scored, and Cory Schneider made 35 saves for the Devils. Chris Neil and Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Mika Zibanejad scored for Ottawa. Andrew Hammond made 28 saves.
  • The Predators beat the Ducks 5-1. Colin Wilsonand Ryan Ellis each had a goal and two assists while Mattias Ekholm and Mike Ribeiro each had a goal and an assist, Eric Nystrom also scored. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Preds. Jiri Sekac had the only Anaheim goal.
  • The Canadiens beat the Sabres 7-2. The Habs Andrei Markovcontributed a goal and four assists. Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise each scored twice, and Max Pacioretty and Torrey Mitchell also scored. Mike Condon made 34 saves, and K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec each had three assists. Matt Moulson and Ryan O’Reilly scored for Buffalo, and Cody Franson had two assists.
  • The Bruins beat the Islanders 5-3. David Pastrnakbroke a tie late in the second period. Brett Connolly, Joonas Kemppainen and Ryan Spooner also scored for Boston. Jonas Gustavsson, started in place of Tuukka Rask, and finished with 23 saves. David Krejci had an empty-netter with 2:25 remaining. Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas and Thomas Hickey scored for the Islanders.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsovhad three goals and two assists to help Washington beat Edmonton 7-4. Kuznetsov opened the scoring on a backhander at 3:05 of the first period, gave Washington a 4-3 lead with another backhander at 6:17 of the second, and completed his first career hat trick with a snap shot on a power play with 3:01 left in the third period. Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams also scored for Washington, and Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves. Rookie star Connor McDavid scored his fifth goal of the season for Edmonton. Benoit Pouliot, Rob Klinkhammer and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored.
  • The Flames beat the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime. Mark Giordanoscored his second goal of the game in overtime. Joe Colborne tied it for the Flames with 1:12 left in the third period. Giordano scored 3:12 into overtime. Jonas Hiller contributed 27 saves for the Flames. Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith scored first-period power-play goals for the Red Wings.
  • The Lightning beat the Jets 4-3 in overtime. Ondrej Palatscored 36 seconds into overtime scoring off a 3-on-1 rush, converting a tap in after a tic-tac-toe play with Steven Stamkos. Victor Hedman. Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov also scored, and Ben Bishop made 33 saves. Nikolaj Ehlers, Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets.
  • Rangers beat the Flames 4-1. Dan Girardiput New York ahead 2-1 with 3:03 left in the second. Girardi was recently demoted to the third defense pairing with Keith Yandle, he snuck down to the right circle and snapped a rebound of Emerson Etem’s shot past Jonas Hiller.. Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Klein and Derick Brassard also contributed goals. Antti Raanta made 22 saves. Jiri Hudler scored the Flames’ only goal.
  • The Jets won 5-4 against the Wild. Drew Staffordscored twice and Blake Wheeler had two assists. Minnesota’s Jason Zucker scored 10 seconds into the game, but then Winnipeg got five consecutive goals. Bryan Little tied it 1:22 into the first, Andrew Ladd scored about 2 minutes later and Nikolaj Ehlersmade it 3-1 Jets (5-2-1) midway through the period. Stafford scored 51 seconds into the second, chasing Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper. Stafford scored again on Devan Dubnyk just under 4 minutes later. Wheeler extended his season-opening point streak to a franchise-record eight games. Michael Hutchinson made 26 saves for Winnipeg. Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine and Zach Parise also scored for Minnesota.
  • The Kings beat the Oilers 3-2. Tanner Pearsonbroke a tie late in the third period with his first goal since breaking his leg last season. Pearson’s power-play goal put the Kings ahead with 3:26 left. He found the rebound from Jake Muzzin’s shot and slapped it past goalie Cam Talbot. Connor McDavid nearly tied it for Edmonton with 5.2 seconds left, but Jonathan Quick sprawled to catch his backhander right at the goal line. A replay review upheld the no-goal call. Taylor Hall tied it for Edmonton on the power play. Hall redirected a pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for his third of the season, and Pearson scored than 3 minutes later. Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter also scored for the Kings. Drew Doughty had two assists. Benoit Pouliot scored in the first period with the help of McDavid.

Follow @BandBHockey and @TristinHuntamer on Twitter

  • Steven Stamkos scored his 500th career point with a tiebreaking power-play goal that sent theTampa Bay Lightning to a 6-3 win over the Bruins on Monday afternoon. It was Tampa Bay’s first win in Boston since March 25, 2010. In that same game Loui Eriksson had two power-play goals, and David Krejci also had one for Boston, which opened a season with three straight losses for the first time since 1999.
  • When the Jets met the Islanders John Tavareshad a power-play goal and added two assists, Thomas Greiss made 22 saves and the Islanders got their first win of the season and the first in their new Brooklyn home. The score was 4-2.
  • On Tuesday Tomas Fleischmannfinished an odd-man rush with his first goal of the season early in the third period and the Canadiens beat the Penguins 3-2. Fleischmann scored off a feed from David Desharnais to help Montreal wrap up its season-opening trip at 4-0-0 and drop Pittsburgh to 0-3-0. Max Pacioretty scored twice for the Canadiens, and Carey Price finished with 31 saves. Beau Bennett and Kris Letang scored for Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel had up an assist in his home debut with the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots for the Penguins.
  • The Stars Jason Spezza scored three goals and leading to a 4-2 victory over the Oilers. Edmonton’s golden boy, Connor McDavid scored his first NHL goal in the 2nd evening the score to 2-2. The Stars had 52 shots, their most since Feb. 3, 1990, in a 7-6 loss to Philadelphia. Spezza finished off the hat trick with an empty-net goal. Anders Nilssonmade 48 saves in his first appearance for Edmonton.
  • Against the Capitals Martin Jonesmade 31 saves for his second straight shutout of the season. Matt Nieto, and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist, and Joe Thornton, Mike Brown and Tomas Hertl added goals tallying 5 goals altogether for the Sharks.
  • Against the Devils Roman Josihad a power-play goal in the first period and added a short-handed empty netter in the third. Eric Nystrom also had an empty-net goal for the Predators, off to their best start since 2010-11. Pekka Rinne made 22 saves.
  • Jaromir Jagrassisted on Barkov’s goal for his 1,809th career point and the Panthers beat the Hurricanes 4-1.
  • Jets beat the Rangers 4-1. Brian Little scored twice, Nikolaj Ehlersand Mark Stuart also added to the Jets tally, and Michael Hutchinson made 40 saves.
  • Gustav Nyquistand Kyle Quincey scored and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist for Detroit in their 3-1 win against Tampa Bay.
  • Blue beat Flames 4-3. Colton Paraykoscored his first two NHL goals. The defenseman broke a 2-2 tie on a power play at 4:47 of the second period on a 55-foot wrist shot and scored again with 32 seconds left in the second on another long shot. Troy Brouwer and Scottie Upshall also scored for the Blues. Mason Raymond, Jiri Hudler and David Jones scored for Calgary.
  • Michal Neuvirthstopped 30 shots in his second straight shutout, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Sam Gagner, Claude Giroux and Matt Read scored to lead the Flyers to their 12th straight regular-season home victory over Chicago. The Flyers have not lost to the Blackhawks in Philly during the regular season since Nov. 9, 1996.
  • Senators beat the Blue Jackets 7-3. Bobby Ryanand Mika Zibanejad each had a goal and two assists, Erik Karlsson added a career-high four assists, and Ottawa improved to 3-0-0 on the road for the first time since the start of the 2007-08 season. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist, and Marc Methot, Milan Michalek, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman also scored for the Senators. Ryan Stone had two assists and Craig Anderson made 37 saves. Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus and Ryan Johansen had two assists. The Blue Jackets have dropped their first four games in regulation for the first time in the franchise’s 15-year history.
  • Coyotes beat the Ducks 4-0. Anthony Duclairscored the game’s first two goals en route to his first career hat trick and Mike Smith made 37 saves for his 28th career shutout. Rookie Max Domi had a goal and an assist and Martin Hanzal had three assists.
  • Bruins beat the Avalanche 6-2 avoided its worst start in more than 50 years. Kevan Millerand Jimmy Hayes scored 2:22 apart in the first period, with Tyler Randell, Chris Kelly and Ryan Spooner scoring in the second. Spooner’s goal with 4:28 remaining in the second ended a rough evening for Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 14 of 19 shots before being relieved by Reto Berra. David Krejci added an empty-net goal with 1:29 left. Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell added goals for Colorado.
  • Evgeni Malkinscored his first goal in nearly seven months and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots for his 39th career shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 2-0 on Thursday night. Daniel Sprong picked up the first goal of his career.
  • Islanders beat the Predators 4-3. John Tavaresand Nikolay Kulemin scored in the third period giving Nashville its first loss of the season. Anders Lee and Kyle Okposo scored in the second period to tie the score for the Islanders after they fell behind by two, and Thomas Greiss finished with 44 saves. Tavares and Lee also had an assist and Mikhail Grabovski added two. Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg and James Neal scored for the Predators, who had opened the season 3-0-0. Pekka Rinne had 24 saves.
  • Capitals beat the Blackhawks 4-1. Braden Holtbystopped 26 shots, Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in his return to the Washington lineup. John Carlson, J. Oshie and Matt Niskanen also scored for the Capitals.
  • Stars beat the Lightning 5-3 with goals from Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin,Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin and Jason Demers. Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for the Lightning.
  • Panthers beat the Sabres 3-2.  Jaromir Jagrscored twice in the first period and Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist.  Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for his 403rd career victory, tying him with Grant Fuhr for ninth in all-time wins.
  • Carey Pricemade 25 saves, getting a shutout, and the Canadiens made franchise history by starting a season with a fifth straight win. Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise and Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal.
  • Blues beat the Oliers 4-2. Paul Stastnyand Alexander Steen scored in the third period. Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for the Blues, who beat Edmonton for the eighth straight time. Stastny, Steen and Lehtera also each had an assist, and Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots. Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Hall scored for the Oilers, and Cam Talbot had 25 saves.
  • Joe Pavelskiand Brent Burns scored in a shootout to lift the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. Martin Jones stopped 31 shots. Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks in the opening minute and the goal stood until Adam Henrique ended Jones’ shutout bid with a tying power-play goal. Henrique scored for New Jersey on its first shootout attempt, but Jacob Josefson was stopped on the second and Mike Cammalleri missed the net on the third.
  • Leo Komarovscored two late goals and Toronto beat Columbus to give Mike Babcock his first victory as coach of the Maple Leafs with a score of 6-3. Joffrey Lupul had a goal and an assist, and Jake Gardiner, James van Riemsdyk, and Nazem Kadri also scored to help Toronto. Daniel Winnik added three assists, Morgan Rielly had two, and James Reimer finished with 24 saves. Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist to reach 600 career points, and Boone Jenner and Nick Folignoalso scored for Columbus.
  • Lee Stempniakscored at 3:07 of overtime and the New Jersey Devils finally gave new coach John Hynes a victory with a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday. Adam Henrique, who scored early in the second period, made the cross-ice pass that Stempniak fired past his former teammate Henrik Lundqvist to end the 3-on-3 overtime. Cory Schneider finished with 26 saves for New Jersey. Lundqvist stopped 22 shots.
  • Blues beat the Jets 4-2. Vladimir Tarasenkoscored twice and Brian Elliott made 26 saves. Tarasenko gave the Blues a 3-2 lead on a delayed penalty midway through the third period, firing a shot past goalie Ondrej Pavelec and into the corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season. Scottie Upshall and Carl Gunnarsson also scored for St. Louis. Nikolaj Ehlers and Mathieu Perreault scored for Winnipeg.
  • Tyler Toffoliscored on a breakaway late in the second period to help Los Angeles beat Colorado 2-1. Marian Gaborik also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves. Matt Duchene  gave Colorado their only point.
  • Ducks won 4- 1 against the Wild. Anton Khudobinhad 34 saves.  Cam Fowler, Rickard Rakell, and Mike Santorelli all contributed goals.
  • The Oilers beat the Canucks 2-1 in overtime whenLauri Korpikoski scored on a breakaway. Nail Yakupov scored in regulation and Anders Nilsson stopped 33 shots to benefit the Oilers. Matt Bartkowski scored for the Canucks and Ryan Miller finished with 22 saves.

grail

SERIES O – A2 vs. C3 TIME (ET) Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa By Lightning NETWORKS
Wednesday, June 3 8 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, June 6 7:15 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Monday, June 8 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, June 10 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, June 13 8 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
*Monday, June 15 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Chicago NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
*Wednesday, June 17 8 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

* if necessary

PhotoGrid_1431769317568

This will be the first time since 2011 that the Lightning will have been in the Eastern Conference Final. The Rangers have been in the conference final three times in the last four seasons. The Lightning haven’t reached the Stanley Cup Final since 2004, when they won the championship with forward Martin St. Louis as their leading scorer and Dan Boyle as their top defenseman; both of whom now play for the Rangers. While former Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, center Brian Boyle, and defenseman Anton Stralman are now play for the Lightning. Callahan was traded to the Lightning in a transaction that brought St. Louis to New York on March 5, 2014. Boyle and Stralman signed with the Lightning as free agents this summer after helping the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Final last season, where they lost to the Kings in five games. Tampa Bay and New York have not played each other since playing three times between Nov. 17th and Dec. 1st. Tampa Bay won all three games by a combined 15-8. Both teams have the benefit of speed so expect great skating, but both teams have dealt with outlying factors such as injuries and performing poorly or better in areas of the game contrary to the way they played during the regular season.

newsletter_usTampa Bay Lightning-

How they got to the Eastern Conference Final: The Lightning needed 13 games to reach the conference final. They trailed the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in the first round before winning in seven games, and built a 3-0 lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the second round before clinching in Game 6. We learned that Tampa Bay is an adaptable team and doesn’t just rely on one formula to win. They have leaned heavily on goaltending from Bishop who has stepped up to the occasion. Stamkos did not deliver in the series against Detroit, but ended round 2 on a five-game point streak, contributing three goals and seven assists in 13 playoff games. Tyler Johnson has had a phenomenal post season for the Bolts leading the league with eight goals, and sitting 3rd overall with 12 points.

How they can get to the Stanley Cup Final: This team can push forward leaning on goaltending from Ben Bishop, relying on a strong blueline held down by Braydon Coburn and Jason Garrison, or by scoring ability and puck possession. But what will really be needed for a shot to play in the final will be a combination of it all. This is a team that has won games thus far in these playoffs in many different ways, but each time a different piece of the puzzle was missing. Tampa Bay began the playoffs with three of its top six defensemen dealing with injuries, but is beginning the Eastern Conference Final with a healthy defensive group. Stralman and Hedman have been a great pairing and have performed well. Ryan Callahan missed Game 6 against Montreal after an emergency appendectomy, but is already skating with his team and could provide valuable forechecking if he returns. Tampa Bay has a real weapon in the Tyler Johnson centered line with Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat; the line has combined for 17 goals and 14 assists. Now that Stamkos has shaken the monkey off his back this team is far more dangerous. Bishop has a SP of .931 so far this post-season, but he will need to buckle down and not allow soft goals in this series. The Lightning had incredible offensive power and led the league in puck possession during the regular season and those aspects of their game have badly faltered during the post season thus far, but if they can play the way they did in the regular season this team will find itself in the final. Coach Cooper showed that he is not afraid to try something risky in Game 6 against the Habs he replaced Callahan with undrafted 24-year-old, Jonathan Marchessault, instead of favored prospect Jonathan Drouin. Marchessault proved to be a good choice in the 11:15 minutes he was on the ice. That being said the Lightning would have a better chance at playing in the final if Callahan returns, and if he can play as well as he did before his appendectomy.

kk051415)630

New York Rangers-

How they got to the Eastern Conference Final: The Rangers needed 12 games to reach this conference final. They eliminated the Penguins in five games in the first round and seven against the Capitals. Each of the games was decided by one goal, including eight by a 2-1 score, and four in overtime. The Rangers are 6-2 in 2-1 games and 4-0 in overtime (all the OT games had a 2-1 score). The Rangers earned this appearance with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 7 of the second round against the Capitals. They are the first team in NHL history to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a playoff series two years in a row. Against Washington New York found its speed from Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider to be their most valuable attribute. The Rangers have only averaged 2.00 goals for the post-season, but thankfully for them Henrik Lundqvist has stepped up when he was most needed. He had a save percentage of .931 or higher in every game against Washington, and has a GAA of 1.60. They have an 89.3 percent success rate on the penalty kill in large part because of Lundqvist’s efforts.

How they can get to the Stanley Cup Final: The Rangers offense needs to find the back of the net because averaging 2.00 goals a game in the post season will not cut it for long. The Rangers were one of the highest-scoring teams during the regular season and if Henrik Lundqvist continues his stellar performance in the crease, and can give the offense an opportunity to step up their game this team can have a chance to move on to the final. New York has really improved their puck possession game during the post season and held their own against teams that were better in that area during the regular season. Ryan McDonagh has had a strong post season showing and is likely to remain a great asset in this series. Dan Girardi leads Rangers defensemen with 48 blocked shots taking some stress off Lundqvist. Coach Alain Vigneault hasn’t let the fear of change get to him as the post season has gone on he has made timely decisions to change up lines when they weren’t working, and this ability to adapt to game situations is the sign of a great coach.

Follow @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey on Twitter