Kukla's Korner

Long Wait Soon Over: Make Your ECF Prediction Here

Anyone else feel like the Tampa Bay Lightning have enjoyed a mini-off-season of sorts lately?

Granted, it’s only been five days since the Bolts disposed of the Washington Capitals with the big broom of death, completing the four-game sweep at the St. Pete Times Forum last Wednesday to reach the Eastern Conference Final (and granteder, any kind of rest would do wonders for any team at this time of year) but, still, the first two rounds were quite the whirlwind and after a head-spinning couple of weeks, in all honesty, it’s been nice to have a little down time.

That’s all over for the Lightning, who returned to practice yesterday and hit the ice again today (with the addition of forward Simon Gagne, albeit in a red, non-contact jersey, now expected to be back for game one).

And it’s all over for yours truly as well as we’re close enough now to the start of the series for a comprehensive preview to post aaaaaaaaany time now and for game-by-game coverage to resume in short order, to boot.

With that, I’ll remind you of the upcoming collaboration with Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog, who is working with me on the series preview and will be joining forces throughout the series for alternating Q&A sessions not unlike those I had the pleasure of doing with From the Point‘s Brian Metzer in round one.

Look for that some time tomorrow, [insert higher power of choice here]-willing.

Beyond that (and your regularly-scheduled reaction and opinion to series goings-on here) I’ll continue to be providing stringer spots on TSN Radio during games three, four (and, if need be, six) of the series, while Matt does the same for the tilts in Boston and I expect I’ll be jumping in with the boys on SiriusXM NHL Home Ice for previews and recaps during this next round as well.

Word is, depending on how long the last Western Conference semifinal series goes (thanks for the break, you Detroit animals, you), the Bolts and Bruins won’t kick things off until Thursday, at the earliest, and it looks like it would take wins by both Nashville tonight and the Red Wings again tomorrow to make even that happen.

Until then - or at least until Matt and I wrap that Boston/Tampa Bay preview up for you - why don’t we kick things off for the Eastern Conference’s final round with some predictions from one and all. You’ll get ours in 24 hours or less. A little friendly banter back and forth between now and then wouldn’t hurt anything.

So, have at it, gang: Lightning or Bruins to play for the Cup, in how long and, most importantly of all… WHY?

JJ on Twitter

Filed in: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink


Jon Jordan's avatar

Orrrrrrrr not…

Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 05/10/11 at 11:52 AM ET

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

I am picking the Bruins to win, but I will admit a lot of bias on my behalf. I have been cheering for the Bruins to spite my Habs-fan father since I discovered hockey cards back when I was six. Honestly, the series should be really close. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went seven games like the Montreal series.

I’m really looking forward to your preview with the Matt Kalman.

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 05/10/11 at 12:48 PM ET


Don’t know.

Boston’s gate-crashing between the opponent’s circles should allow them better looks at Tampa’s net than Washington got and, unlike Pittsburgh, they’ll be dressing some guys who can finish from there. However, Boston’s best forward is out indefinitely with a concussion (sounds familiar for some reason).

Chara will be the best defenseman Tampa’s faced, and he tends to totally nullify big ‘horse’ type forwards like Lecavalier and Stamkos, and crashing the net (Downie, the Swedish guy who used to be on the Islanders) is not possible when he’s on the ice. At the same time, he has serious problems with small, shifty guys who change directions a lot (Moore, St Louis). Tampa has both types of players.

Other than Chara and (the disinterested) Kaberle, the Bruins don’t have the types of puck movers to comfortably get the puck through Boucher’s 1-3-1 on every breakout. At the same time, Tampa doesn’t have the puck-movers on D to easily crack Julien’s air-tight trap. These teams are going to be playing Pong in the NZ a lot.

I think this series will just come down to whose Goaltender plays better for 4 out of 7 games, which is such a small sample size it’s impossible to predict.

Posted by steviesteve on 05/10/11 at 07:54 PM ET

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