FTHN Breakdown: Lightning vs. Red Wings Rd1

STAMKOS (TBL.NHL)

STAMKOS (TBL.NHL)

Hockey fans witnessed an exciting bout of games last night as the puck dropped on the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. There was plenty to talk about after the events unfolded, and the good news is there is more to come.

This is maybe one of the most anticipated matchups of the first round, the offensive powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the historic Detroit Red Wings.

Detroit finished with 100 points good for third in the Atlantic division to stretch their historic streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 24 seasons.

The Lightning are heavily favored however as they are gunning for a second championship, managed by who other but former Red Wing Steve Yzerman, who is beloved in Hockeytown. Unfortunately, there are no friends in the playoffs, it’s all business.

Will the Red Wings be able to pull off an upset? Let’s find out.

(Courtesy of sportingcharts.com)

(Courtesy of sportingcharts.com)

Goaltending 

Big Ben (Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Big Ben (Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Big Ben Bishop stands in at 6 foot 7, and covers up much of the net and leaves you little to no room to pick a spot to shoot.

Bishop posted a .916 save percentage along with a  2.32 goals against average, decent numbers for a starting goaltender.

The way to beat him is to get him to drop down then go up high, other than that, you’re going to have a rough time against this guy.

For the Wings, it was announced Petr Mrazek would be their starter for game one, after coming up from the AHL, the 23-year old has been a great story for Detroit. He played 29 games in 2014-15, putting up a .918 save percentage and a 2.38 GAA.

After taking the job from Jimmy Howard, this kid has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, will he buckle or will he handle the job?

Edge: Lightning 

Forwards

Stamkos (Photo: Getty Images)

Stamkos (Photo: Getty Images)

The Lightning scored 262 goals as a team this year, leading the league, with all-star forward Steven Stamkos guiding the way with 43 of his own.

It’s clear that Tampa is the most dangerous team in the league when it comes to offense, they have so many weapons they can hit you with and they also play a very fast-paced game which keeps you always on your heels.

The Lightning also had contributions from their bottom-six, with Brian Boyle, Cedric Paquette, and Alex Killorn all hitting double digits in goals.

Injuries plagued Detroit’s mainstays at forward in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but if they can play at the top of their game, they will have a chance in this series. Tomas Tatar also had a breakout year and could be a providing force in the postseason, Justin Abdelkader also contributed with 23 goals.

Edge: Lightning

Defense

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Tampa is led by former New York Ranger Anton Stralman at the back end, he has strong possession numbers, and led the team in scoring on the blueline with 39 points. He is followed by Victor Hedman, a solid all-around defenseman.

Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will be called upon heavily to try to keep this Lightning team at bay, and they will certainly have their work cut out for them when trying to match their speed up top. Kyle Quincey, Marek Zidlicky, and Danny DeKeyser will also have to play their parts as well.

Edge: Lightning

Special Teams 

The only thing Detroit has going for them in this series is their powerplay, which finished second in the league behind the Washington Capitals. They will be up against some pretty stiff competition however, as the Lightning’s penalty kill ranked 7th in the league.

Edge: Even

Prediction

As much as we’d like to see it, Detroit will not be able to keep up with Tampa in this series. They are favored to come out of the East for a reason, their pace and depth down the middle and on defense will be too much for the Wings and Mrazek to handle.

LIGHTNING IN FIVE GAMES

 

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