Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning-Canadiens: How they match up

The Lightning and Canadiens open their best-of-seven first-round Eastern Conference playoff series tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It's a good bet that the games will be close, considering three of the teams' four regular-season meetings this season went past regulation and two were decided by shootouts. Tampa Bay won the series 3-0-1. Who has the edge in the playoffs?


Carey Price, Canadiens

Price, 26, is among the top goalies in the world and is coming off a regular season in which he set career bests in save percentage (.927) and goals-against average (2.32). Price also led Canada to a gold medal in February's Olympics, stopping 100 of 103 shots. "You're probably looking at the premier goalie in the league," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. Price, though, hasn't won a playoff series since his rookie year (2007) and is 9-17 with a 2.90 GAA in 30 postseason games overall. "We're going against one of the best in the world in Carey," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We have to do the same things that you try to do on every goalie but it's even more: make sure he doesn't see pucks, a lot of traffic in front. He's had an unbelievable year, and we have to expect that he's going to be great for them. That's going to be a big challenge for us."

Anders Lindback, Lightning

When the Lightning lost its MVP, goalie Ben Bishop, to an elbow injury last week, it was easy for some to write Tampa Bay off. Bishop, after all, had put himself in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy (top goalie), and backup Anders Lindback, 25, had been inconsistent at best. But Lindback has seized the moment, picking up three straight wins (0.67 goals-against average, .975 save percentage, a shutout). Lindback has just 13 minutes of playoff experience (in 2011 with the Predators) but has been playing more calmly and confidently. Having a good goalie is great, but a hot goalie is more dangerous.

Edge: Canadiens


The Lightning has the best forward in this series, star center Steven Stamkos. The Canadiens got a big boost when wing Thomas Vanek was acquired from the Islanders at the trade deadline; he forms a potent line with center David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. Captain Brian Gionta is a stout two-way player. Montreal did lose second-line forward Alex Galchenyuk for the first round due to a lower body injury. The Lightning, built on speed, is younger but deeper, with four 20-goal scorers (Stamkos, Valtteri Filppula, rookies Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat). Veteran Ryan Callahan, brought in from the Rangers in the Marty St. Louis trade, is built for playoff hockey.

Edge: Lightning


The Canadiens' P.K. Subban is the defending Norris Trophy (best defenseman) winner, a big presence at both ends of the ice. Veteran Andrei Markov anchors the top group, and Mike Weaver, acquired at the trade deadline, has solidified the third pairing. The Lightning has a good mix, too, with veterans including Eric Brewer and Sami Salo mixed in with younger players such as Victor Hedman, who may have reached elite status this season. The emergence of rookie Radko Gudas and the presence of Matt Carle have allowed Brewer and Salo to play fewer minutes, making them more effective.

Edge: Lightning


The Canadiens' Michel Therrien, 50, in his second stint with Montreal, has coached almost 600 NHL games. He led the Penguins for four seasons, a stretch that included a trip to the 2008 Stanley Cup final. The Lightning's Jon Cooper, 46, has done a remarkable job in his first full NHL season, putting him in coach-of-the-year consideration. Through injuries to Steven Stamkos and Ben Bishop, and the trade of Marty St. Louis, Cooper has kept the team together and playing well at the right times.

Edge: Canadiens


The Canadiens won seven of their final 10 games (7-2-1). They're a skilled, veteran group, in the playoffs for the second straight season. Though eight of the Lightning's key players are 23 or younger, many were in playoff runs with coach Jon Cooper in the AHL. Plus, Tampa Bay got mentally tougher overcoming the absence of Steven Stamkos after he broke a leg in November and the trade of Marty St. Louis; that has given the Lightning a "Why not us?" approach. And Tampa Bay, which has home-ice advantage, was 25-10-6 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Edge: Lightning

Lightning-Canadiens: How they match up 04/15/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  3. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning


    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  4. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.