Check out Part 1 of the Bruins-Tampa Game 6 preview, where we look at it from Tampa's side.
The Boston Bruins are moving closer to their first Stanley Cup Finals berth since 1990 and their first overall title since 1972, a draught only surpassed by five teams in the entire NHL.
However, getting to the Stanley Cup Finals is far from inevitable as they first must head south to face a Tampa Bay Lightning team that will play with desperation, at least according to Boston coach Claude Julien. The fourth year coach has said a desperate Tampa team is a dangerous Tampa team, and he knows his Bruins cannot come out flat like they did in Game 5.
We definitely have to match it, if not even compete harder and battle harder than them, said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, regarding Tampa's likely intensity coming out the gate.
The Bruins will be facing a potent Lightning attack, which has led the NHL during the playoffs in points scored, looking to break out. For the Bruins, the key to winning Game 6 and the series will be once again relying on goalie Tim Thomas to continue his Herculean effort.
In game 5's victory, Thomas basically stood on his head, making incredible save after save. Thomas has been the Bruins savior and arguably the best goalie in the playoffs with an average of only 2.27 goals against and a remarkable 515 saves out of 553 shot attempts.
Tim Thomas' incredible save against Tampa's Steve Downie.
No goalie has faced more shots and no goalie has saved more than Thomas, who is proving why he's the leading candidate to win the NHL's Vezina award, given to the league's best goalie. If the Bruins want to win, he cannot regress. It's worth noting, he hasn't been perfect in the playoffs, in games one and four, he gave up five goals
Naturally, the six year veteran product from Flint, Mich. can't do it himself. The Bruins will need more consistent play from their defense. The Bruins have mostly relied on its first string defenders, Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara, to main the fort in front of Thomas. Outside of those two, they have had a tough time neutralizing the speed of Tampa's offense.
On offense, the Bruins have quietly put together an impressive postseason campaign, which has been overshadowed by the heroics of Thomas. Despite only having 20 shots in Game 5, the Bruins made the most of their opportunities, scoring three goals, including the eventual game winner from left winger Brad Marchand.
The Bruins will need Marchand, center Patrice Bergeron, right wingers Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder to find more scoring chances than they did in Game 5. The Bruins also will have to capitalize on power play opportunities. While they have been better than they were earlier in the postseason, they have still failed to score on numerous occasions against Tampa, including a 5-on-3 in Game 5.
Prediction: The way this series has gone, it seems destined for a Game 7. I have a hard time seeing a team with Tampa's experience and scoring potency losing the series at home. Tampa wins 4-2.