5.27.2011

Eastern Conference Finals: Game 7 Preview

Tonight we will see what I expect to be one of the most exciting games of the 2010-2011 NHL season. The series so far has been amazing and we have seen some of the best hockey of the playoffs. The Lightning jumped out to an early lead in the series in game 1 by tallying their 8th straight win. Boston came back to take game 2 on home ice and then took a 2-1 series lead in Tampa. The resilient Lightning came back to tie the series before going down in 3-2 in the series in game 5. With their backs against the wall, Tampa pulled out a come-from-behind victory in game 6 overcoming a clutch hat trick from David Krejci. So now for tonight's game. Both teams have potent offenses but they have both gone through struggles in the series. I had my doubts about Tampa's defense, but they have at least been satisfactory if not excellent. Boston's defense, on the other hand, is one of the most formidable in the league. Therefore, the game and both teams Stanley Cup aspirations will come down to two of the NHL's elite goaltenders. Dwayne Roloson, 41, has been shaky at best and was even pulled in favor of Mike Smith but he has never lost an elimination in his illustrious career. He has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove that he deserves his place in the pantheon of great goalies despite his advanced age. On the other side of the ice, you have Tim Thomas who set a single season record for save percentage. He has been able to pull his team through the mid-season lows and the playoff trial. However, Thomas is 37 in his own right and has let in some soft goals to an extremely lucky Tampa Bay team. He too wants to prove that he is one of the best goalies ever and has another few years left in him. My prediction? It will be a close, hard-fought defensive hockey game that will be suspenseful to the end and it might even come down to the last rush up the ice. In the end, I think Boston will have benefited from last year's disappointment and find away to shut down the Lightning's potent offense and advance to the Stanley Cup finals. Tampa Bay 1 Boston 3

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