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Lightning vs Canadiens

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Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Why the Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:00 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

Perhaps no team filled as many holes in their lineup so well at the NHL Trade Deadline as the Montreal Canadiens, and that is a big reason they will win the 25th Stanley Cup in franchise history this June.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin acquired defenseman Mike Weaver from the Florida Panthers the day before the deadline, setting the stage for his real home run a day later with the acquisition of forward Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders.

The arrival of Vanek gives the Canadiens something they have lacked for years, a top-end first line which can score consistently and provide relief to the team's other lines by attracting the opposition's top defensive stoppers on a nightly basis.

Vanek has combined with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais to become one of the NHL's most-potent offensive trios, and while losing Alex Galchenyuk for the duration of the first round with a lower-body injury hurts, the other lines have been rendered more effective because of how strong the top line has been.

Why the Lightning will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:05 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

The Tampa Bay Lightning will win the Stanley Cup because they lost their best player.

There isn't a more battle-tested team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the Lightning, and getting past all the adversity they experienced this season will give them the wherewithal and confidence to overcome any they might face in the postseason.

When Steven Stamkos broke his leg after a violent collision with a goal post in a 3-0 road loss to the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11, it set off a chain reaction of events which have placed the Lightning on more solid footing than they were prior to the injury and placed them in position to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

The day after arguably the most potent goal-scoring machine in the world was lost, Lightning coach Jon Cooper met the media in Montreal.

X-Factor: Callahan a game-changer for Lightning

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:00 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

Ryan Callahan could not have joined the Tampa Bay Lightning under worse circumstances.

Embroiled in very public contract negotiations with the New York Rangers for weeks leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, Callahan and his expiring contract were acquired by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman in exchange for Martin St. Louis in a swap of team captains on March 5.

Callahan's departure from Manhattan was always seen as a distinct possibility, if not a probability, but the decision by St. Louis to request a trade to New York blindsided the Lightning fan base. It was something completely out of left field.

Gone was St. Louis, a hero from Tampa Bay's run to the Stanley Cup and a player who defied the odds to become a star in the NHL thanks largely to the opportunity afforded him by the franchise from which he orchestrated his own departure.

Despite long odds, Palat has emerged for Lightning

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:00 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

Ondrej Palat sat there and waited.

He waited some more.

As the 2011 NHL Draft was rolling through its second day about 4,500 miles away in St. Paul Minn., Palat was at home in Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic, wondering, waiting to see if he would take another step toward his dream of an NHL career.

Palat had left his home two years earlier to play for the Drummondville Voltigueurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In his second season, he put up 96 points in 61 games, tying him for the team scoring lead with current Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier, the No. 8 pick in 2011.

After being ignored twice by the NHL, surely this would be enough for someone to take notice, right?

Sitting in front of his laptop, Palat watched as the second round ended, then the third, and the fourth, fifth and sixth as well without his name popping up on his computer screen.

Lightning, Canadiens find little room for separation

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 10:50 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning do not share a rich and storied history in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The two teams have met once before in the playoffs, and if anyone in the Lightning organization is a believer in good omens, the matchup came in the second round in 2004, the season Tampa Bay won its only Stanley Cup.

The Lightning won three of four games against the Canadiens this season, but the series could not have been much closer.

Three of the four games were tied 1-1 after regulation time, and two of them remained tied after overtime. The one game which did not finish 2-1 was the final one of the season, a 3-1 Lightning win in Tampa where the score was 2-1 until the final minute. Alex Killorn scored into an empty net.

So based on the regular season, a tight-checking, low-scoring series should be expected.

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