On Wednesday night three series went to a game seven. Sadly, the Tampa Bay/Montreal series was not one of them. Since you're reading this on the internet I'm going to assume you know that the Lightning had the distinct honor of being the first team bounced from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. While that isn't the ideal end to a season it could have been worse. You could be a San Jose Sharks fan.
As I mentioned over on Raw Charge, there is no need to break out the fancy stats for this one. Simply put, the Montreal Canadiens were the better team. They outplayed the Lightning for most of the series (there were occasional pockets where Tampa looked like the better team) and they deserved to win the honor of getting their asses kicked by the Bruins in the next round.
Since there is no need to rehash the series let's instead review the predictions I made a couple of weeks ago. Unlike other prognosticators that tend to never go back and review their “bold predictions” I own up to my often wildly inaccurate previews. Let's see how I did:
Winner – Lighting in 6
Well that didn't happen. So much for the Canadiens being the ideal match-up in the first round. The Lightning never really found the extra gear needed to be successful in the playoffs. The Canadiens seemed to win every battle for the puck, outskated the Lightning in all three zones and created their own lucky bounces.
Number of OT Games – 4
Only one game, the first game, went to overtime. Despite the fact that they were swept, it wasn't like the Canadiens blew them off the ice. Three of the four games were decided by one goal and had the Lightning been able to get one or two bounces to go their way (i.e. Alex Killorn's shot in overtime in Game One hits the post and goes in instead of bounding away harmlessly) this series plays out differently.
Longest OT - 3
Game One almost made it into the second overtime as Dale Weise banged home the winner at the 18:08 mark of overtime. Looking back, Montreal winning Game One was the turning point of the series. If the Lightning had managed to pull that game out, scoring 4 or 5 goals on less than 20 shots, the entire tone of the series changes. Weise bailed out Carey Price's sub-par performance in that game. To Price's credit he was almost invulnerable in the final three games. Plus the confidence factor for the young TampaCuse players would have been boosted. Instead, it felt like the Lightning were chasing their opponents for the next three games.
X Factor – PK Subban
Unfortunately for the Lightning, “Good” PK Subban showed up. He picked up five assists and was a force moving the puck through the neutral zone for the Canadiens.
|And his skating led to one of my favorite photos.|
Leading Scorer Lightning – Stamkos
Hey, hey I got one right! Four points in four games for the Lightning captain was enough to lead the team in scoring. He was the best player on the ice for Tampa Bay, even after he took a knee to the skull in Game 3.
Leading Scorer Canadiens – Vanek
Thomas Vanek did have a decent series as he posted three points. However, the trio of Lars Eller, PK Subban and Brendan Gallagher all had five points. Almost all of Canadiens contributed offensively (only Francis Bouillon and Andrei Markov didn't register a point) and that depth was the biggest factor in their winning the series.
Number of Games Bishop Plays – 4
I really believed he was going to play in the series. At least I believed that until Game Three. Once he didn't come out in what was a must win for the Lightning I knew he was done for the playoffs. I guess a dislocated left elbow and a torn ligament in the right wrist is kind of hard to overcome.
Number of Games Gudlevskis Plays – 0 (please god let it be 0)
Unfortunately Kristers appeared in two games. He acquitted himself well, stopping 90% of the shots sent his way and keeping the Lightning close in Game Four. If they had pulled out a win in that game there is a good chance he might have started Game Five.
Number of Games BJ Crombeen Suits Up – 2
(Three Points about Radko Gudas throwing hip checks)
As I mentioned in my post after Game Three I didn't get to see too much of the series thanks to my work schedule. Gudas played in three games and except for blowing a tire in Game One that led to a Montreal goal, played pretty well.
Role Player Who Will Have a Surprisingly Good Series – Tom Pyatt
Pyatt saw action in only one game. One of the few tactical mistakes that I think Coach Copper made was his reliance on Cedric Paquette. I know his rookies had come through for him all through the season, but to rely on a player that had only 2 games of experience with the team was asking too much. I'm not sure if the Lightning win the series if Pyatt is in, but I think he helps them shut down some of the secondary scoring that the Canadiens generated.
Will JT Brown Score a Goal – Yes
If it had gone six games I think he would have scored. With Pyatt not playing I'll name Brown as my role player who had a good series. He picked up two assists and was one of the more aggressive forecheckers the Lightning had during the match-up.
So yeah I got two right. As usual not even close to being .500. I don't even want to tell you how bad my bracket looks on NHL.com. Another successful bout of prognostication from the expert!