TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
at BOSTON BRUINS
NHL Playoffs – Eastern Conference Finals
Game 7 – Series tied 3-3
Puck drops: Friday, 8:05 p.m. EDT
Line: Boston -145, Tampa Bay +125, Total: 5.5
Tampa Bay improved to 4-0 this season when facing elimination when it defeated the Bruins 5-4 on Wednesday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The two teams now will play the first Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals since the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 in 2006. Odds.
Martin St. Louis scored two goals and added an assist on Wednesday to give him seven points for this series (4 G, 3 A) and a conference-leading 20 points for the postseason (10 G, 10 A). Teddy Purcell lit the lamp twice for Tampa, marking his second multi-goal game of this series. The Lightning continue to be a scoring machine this postseason, as they now have scored five-or-more goals seven times, and four times this series. After going 0-for-9 on the power play in their previous three games, the Lightning scored three power-play goals in four chances on Wednesday. Dwayne Roloson wasn’t spectacular, but got the job done in Game 6, allowing four goals on 20 shots. Roloson has tied the NHL record for most wins in one playoff year by a goaltender age 40 or older (10), a mark set by Dominik Hasek with the Red Wings in 2007. Scores.
Tampa won Game 7 on the road at Pittsburgh in the Conference Quarterfinals, and now will attempt to win another Game 7 on the road. The Lightning will look to become the third team in as many seasons to win two Game 7s on the road. Last season the Canadiens won Game 7 in Pittsburgh and Washington before losing to the Flyers in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and in 2009 the Hurricanes won Game 7 in Boston and New Jersey before being swept by the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Bruins held a 2-1 lead after the first period on Wednesday, but were hit with another offensive onslaught by the Lightning, much like the one they suffered through in Game 4 when they blew a 3-0 lead and watched Tampa score five unanswered goals. This time the Lightning outscored the Bruins 4-2, thanks to Boston allowing three power-play goals. Boston had gone nine straight games without allowing more than one goal in a game on the penalty-kill. After shutting out the Lightning in Game 3, Tim Thomas has allowed nine goals on 62 shots in the two games at Tampa. David Krejci had a hat trick (goals 8, 9, 10) for the Bruins, their 1st playoff hat trick since Cam Neely on April 25, 1991. Krejci’s hat trick was only the fourth by an NHL player in a Conference Final game over the past 13 playoff years. The Bruins will be playing in two Game 7s in a single playoff year for the first time in team history. They had lost their previous four Game 7s before they won against the Canadiens this year in the Conference Quarterfinals.
One team will be left standing and making a trip to Vancouver for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday. Boston is 10-10 all-time in Game 7s, while Tampa is a perfect 3-0 (the most wins in Game 7 without a loss in NHL postseason history), so the numbers are on Tampa’s side. However, games like this usually come down to better goaltending. The Lightning have done more than any team I’ve seen since the mid-1980’s Edmonton Oilers at consistently scoring in the postseason, so while Thomas holds the advantage over Roloson, it’s a very slight advantage. However, Boston is at home and seems to be playing with a bit of good karma this postseason. They overcame a 2-0 deficit losing the first two games at home against the Canadiens and won the series. Despite allowing five goals four times this series, they still are preparing for a Game 7. Something tells me that the breaks will fall their way and they will make the trip to Vancouver. I’m taking Boston to win and advance to the Finals for the first time since 1990.
The FoxSheets says:
BOSTON is 18-6 ATS (75.0%, +10.3 Units) against explosive offensive teams – scoring 3+ goals/game – 2nd half of the season this season. The average score was BOSTON 3.7, OPPONENT 2.4 – (Rating = 2*). Las Vegas odds.
BOSTON is 24-12 ATS (66.7%, +7.3 Units) against good passing teams – averaging 5 or more assists per game this season. The average score was BOSTON 3.5, OPPONENT 2.3 – (Rating = 1*).