NHL Playoffs: Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning Preview

Richard Wolowicz

The Stats

Montreal Canadiens Tampa Bay Lightning
Record 46-28-8 9th 46-27-9 8th
GF/Game 2.55 21st 2.83 9th
GA/Game 2.45 8th 2.55 11th
5-on-5 Close SF/60 28.5 22nd 30.1 10th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 30.6 22nd 27.5 7th
Fenwick Close 48.40 22nd 51.70 10th
5-on-5 Close Save % .935 3rd .933 5th
5-on-4 GF/60 5.4 23rd 6.3 10th
# of PP's/Gm 3.40 11th 3.29 17th
4-on-5 GA/60 4.8 3rd 6.8 23rd
# of PK's/Gm 3.52 24th 3.29 16th

Background

The Lightning and Canadiens finished 2nd and 3rd in the new Atlantic Division this season, and will meet for only the second time in the post-season, after Tampa Bay swept Montreal in the second round 10 years ago on their way to a Stanley Cup championship. This season, the Lightning took three of the four meetings between the two teams, as top goaltenders Ben Bishop and Carey Price faced off in each contest.

Tampa Bay has gone through tremendous turmoil this season, as they fought through the long absence of super sniper Steven Stamkos due to a broken leg, then saw their captain Martin St. Louis demand a trade out of town after GM Steve Yzerman left St. Louis off the initial Team Canada Olympic roster. Along the way Ben Bishop established himself as a #1 NHL goalie, although his injury status for the beginning of this series is unclear, leaving former Nashville Predator Anders Lindback holding down the fort.

After backstopping Canada to an Olympic gold medal, Carey Price hopes to rebound from a disappointing 2013 playoff and lead Montreal on a deep playoff run. With Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban the Habs have star power to match up with Stamkos, and carry the hopes of Canada with them, as the Great White North's lone playoff representative.

OTF Staff Predictions

Dirk: This should be a fun series to watch, as both teams have outstanding goaltending this season and exciting star players like Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. I like the Habs in 6.

Jon: Tampa Bay in 6. I don't really have any rhyme or reason by this other than a gut feeling. Analysis!

Jason: Tampa in 6. You suck again, Canada.

George: Tampa Bay in 6. When Carey Price is on his game, the Habs are very difficult to beat. But the Bolts have Steven Stamkos who, if he had remained healthy, could have potted 55 goals during the regular season, beating Alexander Ovechkin for Rocket Richard Trophy honors. Montreal's offense centers around 3 or 4 guys, and they'll need contributions up and down the lineup to overwhelm the Tampa attack. I just don't think they'll get them.

Jeremy: Hardest one to pick. It will come down to goaltending...Price Vs. Bishop...Price gets the edge in experience and the confidence of owning the Gold this year. Habs in 6.

Canadiens vs Lightning Schedule

Game Date Time (ET) Eastern Conference First Round National TV
1 Wed, Apr 16 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
2 Fri, Apr 18 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
3 Sun, Apr 20 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NBCSN
4 Tue, Apr 22 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NHLN U.S.
5* Thu, Apr 24 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
6* Sun, Apr 27 TBD Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NBCSN
7* Tue, Apr 29 TBD Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS
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