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2011 Stanley Cup Playoff Picks – Lightning vs. Bruins

NHL Playoff Betting – Lightning vs. Bruins Series Preview & Eastern Conference Finals Pick

It’s NHL PLAYOFFS hockey betting season once again. Hockey Gambling fans sure are getting their money’s worth from the free NHL Stanley Cup Playoff picks we give out here at Capperspicks.com.

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2011 EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS SCHEDULE | #3 Boston vs. #5 Tampa Bay

Saturday, May 14 at Boston, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, May 17 at Boston, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Thursday, May 19 at Tampa Bay, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Saturday, May 21 at Tampa Bay, 1:30 p.m. NBC, TSN, RDS
*Monday, May 23 at Boston, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
*Wednesday, May 25 at Tampa Bay, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
*Friday, May 27 at Boston, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS

– * denotes if necessary
– All Times Eastern

Odds To Win Cup: Lightning +350, Bruins +225
Bruins vs Lightning Odds To Win 7 Game Series: Tampa Bay +120, Boston -165

Did you predict a Bruins-Lightning Eastern Conference final? Congratulations. You’re Pinocchio and your nose just grew longer than Brad Marchand’s.

Enough pundits, bettors and fans expected the Boston Bruins to reach the final four. They entered the playoffs with the game’s best goalie in Tim Thomas, who set a single-season record with a .938 save percentage; arguably the game’s best defenseman in Zdeno Chara, who led the NHL in plus-minus; a deep, physical defense corps to back Chara up; two of the league’s best two-way centers in David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron; and a array of hulking, brutal forecheckers on the wings led by Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Yep, the Bruins fit the “built for the playoffs” bill.

But how many of us saw the Tampa Bay Lighting coming? Their goaltender, Dwayne Roloson, was talented but 41 years old. Some of their two snipers, including Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier, were either slumping or unreliable in crunch-time situations. Their blueline had plenty of size but was underachieving and not as physical as it should’ve been. Many people had Tampa losing to Pittsburgh in round one or at least bowing out to Washington in round two.

Yet here we are at the conference final juncture and Tampa Bay is ready to lock horns with Boston. Roloson has stood on his head for a .940 save percentage in the playoffs. Lecavalier has five goals, including three game-winners, and 12 points in 11 games. Eric Brewer and Matthias Ohlund have stepped up where Victor Hedman has not to be the horses on defense. And, most of all, the Tampa checkers have been absolutely phenomenal. Sean Bergenheim is tied for the league playoff lead with seven goals; he, Dominic Moore and Steve Downie have been a force together.

Crazily enough, this looks like it will be a long series, difficult to forecast. The reason: each team will give the other a look it hasn’t seen so far in these playoffs.

Tim Thomas is freakishly athletic at his advanced age but so is Roloson. The Bergenheim line has gotten under everyone’s skin but the Bruins can match that disruptive force with Lucic and especially Brad Marchand. The Bruins haven’t faced superstar-caliber forwards like Tampa can throw at them with Stamkos, Lecavalier and, perhaps most of all, Martin St. Louis. The Lightning haven’t faced anything remotely close to a shutdown defender like Chara or the shot-blocking prowess of Dennis Seidenberg. It feels like each team is about to meet its maker.

For that reason, I see this series becoming a seven-game war. In the end, I like Boston to edge Tampa. With respect to what the Lightning have accomplished, I just don’t think they’ve been pushed – or pushed back – the way Boston can.

The Bergenheim line wreaked havoc on the Capitals – the physically soft, unfocused Capitals. Do you really think Chara, Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, and Andrew Ference will be intimidated in the same way?

On the flipside, Pittsburgh’s depleted forward corps and Washington’s slick group of forwards didn’t pound on Brewer, Ohlund, Hedman and Pavel Kubina the way Boston’s forwards will. The road won’t be easy for Boston; its power play has struggled for most of the playoffs and Roloson could frustrate their forwards, who don’t have All-Star finishing ability. Dealing with the skill level of Tampa’s snipers will be an adjustment as well.

In the end, though, I still believe the Bruins are the tougher, bigger, more tested team – even if Patrice Bergeron’s concussion keeps him out. Don’t be surprised if this is a surprisingly entertaining series, with multiple overtime games. And pick Boston.

Lightning vs Bruins prediction: Bruins in 7

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.


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