The Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves earning the division title by one point over the Boston Bruins after the final day of the regular season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will face a tough New Jersey Devils team that swept them during the regular season. With that being said the New Jersey Devils are going to give the Lightning a really hard time if the Lightning expect to make a deep run in the postseason.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
The New Jersey Devils have made the playoffs for the first time since losing the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, but this team is much different than it was in 2012. This new Devils roster presents a much younger group of players. However, this may not be entirely good as they will not be use to the style of playoff hockey. This time of year it isn’t about skillset, it is a lot about luck. The lack of urgency and energy when it comes to the postseason may hurt the Devils, but, like I said, the postseason is an entirely new style of play.
Experience is what you make of it. The Tampa Bay Lightning, although they missed the playoffs last season, they reached the conference finals and finals during the 2015 and 2016 season. The Devils have little to no experience in the playoffs but that relates a lot to the Lightning back in 2015. They didn’t have much talent but they made the best of the situation and made a deep run.
The Devils have played with a style of intensity and have had a playoff mindset for weeks as they were battling for the final wild card spot during the week. Because the Devils have played with that intensity for weeks they should find success moving forward if they carry it over into this series.
Having to play tough and aggressive with the playoff mindset to end the season really helped the Devils as they were able to strengthen the team overall, but it is hard for these things to carry over because the playoffs are much more aggressive and slightly more physical than that of the regular season.
Taylor Hall lead the Devils with 39 goals and 54 assists which should gain respect from the Lightning moving forward after the Devils swept the regular season series.
Key to a Devils Victory:
Main focus needs to be that the Devils should continue to play fast and aggressive on offense. Especially, as they look to apply pressure to Vasilevskiy who has a 4-5 record in the postseason.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Nikita Kucherov scored 39 goal this season and has a much stronger scoring offense around him. The Tampa Bay Lightning have four different players with over 25 goals on the season with Point (32), Stamkos (27), and rookie Gourde (25). Having those four on the ice brings pressure to opposing teams defenses as they have threats on multiple lines.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have the leagues top scoring offense but are vulnerable during the penalty kill which they ranked 27th in the league. The Lightning were able to stop 76% of their opponents power plays but the New Jersey Devils ranked 10th in power play along with having 12 short handed goals this season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will host Game 1. They are tied for the 3rd most wins in the league at home with 29 this season.
Key to a Lightning Victory:
Tampa Bay has a lot of offensive depth which may be tricky to defend. If they continue to play aggressive and move the puck efficiently than they could get the edge over the Devils and advance.
Devil’s will take Game 1 as they beat the Lightning 2-1