NHL playoffs 2018: Predictions, odds for Lightning vs. Bruins second-round series

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Steven Stamkos and Brad Marchand (Getty Pictures)

The primary spherical of the Stanley Cup playoffs was predictable and principally unspectacular, however the NHL stumbled into a humiliation of riches with marquee matchups galore in Spherical 2. Instance No. four: Lightning vs. Bruins, the highest two groups within the Japanese Convention assembly head-to-head in what must be an extended, thrilling series.

Just like the Jets and Predators out West, these Stanley Cup contenders carry the unlucky burden (problem?) of getting to beat each other to a pulp earlier than their playoff actually have an opportunity to get off the bottom. Boston already skilled this in its a seven-recreation slugfest with Toronto; Tampa had it simpler because the convention’s No. 1 general seed, handily beating the comfortable-to-be-right here Devils in 5 video games.

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By the point this series opens Saturday, the Lightning may have loved a full week of relaxation. No workforce was a much bigger cheerleader for the Maple Leafs to increase the primary spherical to its limits, and the Bruins now face a fast turnaround to organize for a totally-charged Tampa offense.

Boston, whereas opening as an underdog, truly had Tampa’s quantity face to face within the common season, taking three of 4. The Lightning blew out the Bruins of their remaining assembly when the division title was on the road, however Bruce Cassidy is aware of there are cracks and tips on how to exploit them.

Sporting Information’ NHL specialists Brandon Schlager, Evan Sporer and Jim Cerny make their series predictions under.

Tampa Bay Lightning (-one hundred forty five) vs. Boston Bruins (+one hundred twenty five): Schedule, picks, predictions

Recreation 1: April 28 at Tampa Bay, three p.m. (NBC, Sportsnet, fuboTV)
Recreation 2: April 30 at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m. (NBC, CBC, fuboTV)
Recreation three: Might 2 at Boston, 7 p.m. (NBC, CBC, fuboTV)
Recreation four: Might four at Boston, 7 p.m. (NBC, CBC, fuboTV)
*Recreation 5: Might 6 at Tampa Bay, TBD
*Recreation 6: Might eight at Boston, TBD
*Recreation 7: Might 10 at Tampa Bay, TBD

(All occasions Japanese; * If essential)

Common season conferences: BOS, three-2 (eleven/29); BOS, three-zero (three/17); BOS, four-2 (three/29); TB, four-zero (four/three)

Brandon Schlager (7-1 in first spherical): For all the eye Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy devoted to Auston Matthews and shutting down the Leafs’ celebrity within the first spherical, they will should double these efforts on this series. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov pack a one-two punch in contrast to any within the league. Neither Stamkos nor Kucherov scored a aim towards the Bruins within the common season, however whereas the Boston’s prime protection unit stored Matthews in verify with one aim in seven video games, it will take a gaggle effort to maintain Tampa’s prime duo off the scoresheet this time. It begins in internet with Tuukka Rask, who completed the primary spherical with an .899 save proportion. No matter how you are feeling about how a lot fault Rask deserves, he can unwell afford one other up-and-down series. On the opposite finish, it seems Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy shook off any late-season fatigue with a .941 save proportion in Spherical 1. In a series with no scarcity of star energy, younger depth expertise and a formidable protection on both aspect, we’ll be speaking about certainly one of these goalies stealing a recreation or two because the distinction when the mud settles. I am sticking with my pre-playoff decide: Lightning transfer on to the Japanese Convention finals. 

Lightning in 6 video games

Evan Sporer (6-2): These are the 2 greatest groups within the Japanese Convention, not simply document-sensible, however actually when it comes to providing the entire package deal from prime to backside. The Bruins and Maple Leafs simply completed an in depth, excessive-leisure series, and it’s exhausting to argue the Tampa roster doesn’t have a bit greater than Toronto at this level.

The place the Bruins’ prime line feasted on their matchups towards the Maple Leafs, Anton Stralman and Ryan McDonagh might be a a lot stiffer problem for the road of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Jon Cooper labored exhausting to deploy two defensemen (and Brayden Level’s line) towards Taylor Corridor within the first spherical, and had nice success in getting these skaters on the market (they usually did a terrific job towards the Devils celebrity).

I feel that performs a monumental position within the second spherical. The Lightning gained’t be capable of utterly shut down the Bergeron line, however they could have the ability to sluggish them down, particularly getting final change nearly all of these video games with residence-ice benefit. And when the series in Tampa, look for Cooper to additionally get their prime line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and J.T. Miller shifts away from Bergeron and co. Stralman is absolutely implausible at spacing the zone, and does so many little issues together with his stick and positioning that go unnoticed, however actually frustrate opposing forwards. And that is the place the acquisition of McDonagh turns into so very important, giving the Lightning three all-star caliber defensemen towards a deep offensive workforce. Was additionally very impressed by rookie blueliner Mikhail Sergachev in Spherical 1.

Lightning in 6 video games

Jim Cerny (6-2): It took till Recreation eighty two earlier than the Lightning concurrently clinched the highest spot within the Atlantic Division and first general within the Japanese Convention, ending with 113 factors — another than the Bruins. Now, these groups meet within the second spherical of the playoffs to find out which can advance to the convention last within the East. The Lightning was the higher group within the season’s first half, the Bruins higher within the second half, they usually arrive right here in Spherical 2 with equally deep lineups, good well being, excessive-powered offenses and the power to grind in addition to play with aptitude. Briefly, this must be a heckuva series.
 
The Lightning had a far simpler go of it within the first spherical — besting the Devils in 5 shut, however not taxing, video games — than the Bruins, who have been pushed to the seven-recreation max by the Maple Leafs, and who needed to rally with a monstrous third interval in Recreation 7 in an effort to advance. As such, the Lightning would be the higher-rested staff to start out the series and wish to leap on the Bruins immediately. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask had a shaky first spherical and the Lightning — led by one hundred-level producer Nikita Kucherov, who had 10 factors within the Devils series — would like to sow the seeds of doubt in Rask’s thoughts with a robust offensive begin to the series. On the different finish of the ice, Vasilevskiy is on prime of his recreation, posting a 2.01 GAA and .941 save proportion in Spherical 1. This can be a main benefit for Tampa Bay moving into.
 
Boston did rating 28 objectives over its seven-recreation first-spherical series, and its prime line of Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand mixed for 30 factors. Each groups acquired strong depth scoring within the first spherical – Jake DeBrusk with 5 objectives for Boston; Alex Killorn with 4 for Tampa Bay – and each have been excellent on the facility play, which means there must be possibilities galore, making for a particularly enjoyable series to observe.

Lightning in 6 video games Golden Knights-Sharks