The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins both finished off their respective Eastern Conference Semifinals opponents in four games. Goaltending was the backbone of each teams’ sweep. Dwayne Roloson, 41-year-old veteran, has stood on his head for the Bolts throughout the entire postseason. Tim Thomas, 37-year-old 2009 Vezina Trophy winner, has done the same for the Bruins all season earning a spot as a finalist for this year’s Vezina Trophy. The two netminders’ play will be key for their teams to previal, however, the guys’ play in front of them will be equally important.
Dwayne Roloson has been a man on a mission ever since the playoffs started, leading the NHL postseason in GAA, but he has not done it on his own. Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecalavier, teammates on the Bolts’ 2004 Stanley Cup team, have done their job throughout the playoffs combining for 25 points in their 11 games played. Tampa Bay’s winger Steve Downie continued his regular season ways by sharing the puck and tallying a team leading 10 assists thus far in the playoffs. Another Lightning winger, Sean Bergenheim, who scored 14 goals during the regular season, has stepped up for his team throughout the postseason in an effort to lead the team in goals with seven. Young superstar Steven Stamkos has been rather quiet throughout the playoffs, but he’s contributed when it mattered most tallying four goals and two assists. In order for the Bolts to oust Tim Thomas and the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals they’re going to have to continue to fire the puck on net and crash for rebounds.
Tim Thomas’ boys have provided him with enough help to get the Bruins to the Eastern Conference Finals, but Thomas has made key save after key save throughout the postseason. Zdeno Chara, Boston’s star blueliner, has been nearly non-existent only burying the puck twice and adding two assists to his stat line. He will have to play a larger role against Tampa Bay if the Bruins want to limit the action in front of Thomas. Bruins centerman Patrice Bergeron leads the team in scoring and SOG this postseason, and he will have to continue to fire the puck on net in order for the Bruins to maximize their scoring chances against the determined Roloson.
The pressure on the Bruins to advance to the Stanley Cup has increased throughout the past couple of years, after they failed to reach the Conference Finals the past two years. Their most notable collapse came last year after they blew a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in last year’s Conference Semifinals.
The Bolts have not reached the Conference Finals since they won the Stanley Cup in 2004. Not only are they playing great hockey, but you can see how much fun they are having while on the ice. As a coach, player or fan, you cannot ask for anything more out of your team.
This series between the Bolts and Bruins will be as mental as it is physical. The cooler heads will prevail and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
With that being said…Bolts in 7.
History will be made.