The teams find themselves in familar situations. The Bruins had a 3-2 lead on the Montreal Canadiens in the first round and lost Game 6 on the road. They won Game 7 back home in overtime. The Lightning trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in their first round series, then won at home and then in Pittsburgh to advance.
The Bruins exorcised some Game 7 demons in their defeat of Montreal. The Bruins had lost four straight Game 7s prior to that game, with the last two coming at home. That, of course, includes last year's collapse against Philadelphia. The Lightning have only played two Game 7s in franchise history, both coming in their 2004 Cup-winning run, including a Game 7 in the Finals. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier are the only active holdovers from that team.
Bruins Keys to the Game
- Come Out Flying- The TD Garden will certainly be ready for this one. The Bruins need to build off the crowd's energy. In last year's Game 7 against the Flyers, the Bruins took a 3-0 lead in the first period. They will look to repeat that in this game, only with a better end result.
- Special Teams- The Bruins had numerous power play chances to increase their 2-1 lead in Game 6, but their power play continued to look weak. They did score on the power play later in the game, and have shown signs of life. Coach Claude Julien finally made a change on the man advantage, putting 6'9" defenseman Zdeno Chara in front of the net as a screen. It's at least working better than what they ahd before. The Bruins' penalty kill had been fantastic until Game 6. Tampa scored three power play goals on five opportunities. Boston's penalty kill has to be better in Game 7.
- Tim Thomas- Bruins goalie Tim Thomas has made some incredible saves in this series, most notably his miraculous stick save on Steve Downie in Game 5. But he has also let in more than his share of soft goals as well. Thomas consistently makes saves other goalies wouldn't, but he is at his best when he also handles the easier shots. He has the ability to steal a game, but the Bruins hope they won't have to rely on that. He just needs to give them a chance to win.
- Pressure- There are many players on this team who weren't around for the Game 7 losses in previous years. But this team is in serious danger of developing the label of choke artist, if they haven't already been tagged with it after last year. This team still has something to prove.
Lighting Keys to the Game
- Create Doubt Early- The crowd might be excited, but you can bet they'll also be nervous. Some of the veteran Bruins might be anxious too. A strong start from Tampa can deflate the crowd and make things a lot easier for the Lightning. A good first period on the road is considered being tied or better. The Lightning should aim for better.
- Power Play Spark- The Lightning won Game 6 because their power play finally showed up. The Lightning had the best power play in the regular season and playoffs, but were not as effective in Games 1-5 against Boston. They were huge in Game 6. The Lightning will need to force the Bruins into penalties by outskating them, because Boston will certainly try and avoid the penalty box. The Bruins' power play hasn't created many issues for the Tampa penalty kill, creating a disparity in special teams play that could prove decisive in Game 7.
- Pass it to Purcell- The Bruins haven't found an answer for Lightning forward Teddy Purcell. Purcell has four goals in the past two games, and five goals total for the series. He is providing the kind of secondary scoring that teams need to go deep in the playoffs.
- Big Guns Firing- Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier have three goals between them in this series. Martin St. Louis has been very productive with four goals and three assists. The Lightning have front-end talent that the Bruins can't compare to. They will have to play their best in their biggest game so far.
- Dwayne Roloson- The 41 year-old has been pulled twice in this series. But he is now 7-0 in elimination games. He plays his best in big games. This could turn into a goalie duel between Roloson and Thomas.
Bruins 2, Lightning 1