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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Lightning #1

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

LEADING THE WAY:  Through five regular season matchups against the Lightning, Tomas Plekanec has been the Habs’ most productive point-getter, netting a power play marker in addition to three other helpers. The Czech center also sent 13 shots Ben Bishop’s way, just three shy of the 16 shots fired by Max Pacioretty – who also scored twice.

SHUTTING DOWN STAMKOS: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was Tampa’s best player against the Habs this season, racking up seven points – including five goals – in just five games. Stamkos was also the Bolts’ best player against the Habs last postseason, registering two goals and two assists before eventually being swept in four games. The good news is that Tampa’s leading point-getter has yet to find the back of the net this spring, and that’s one streak the Habs will surely like to keep alive through Round 2.

EXTRA MEN: Much has been made of Montreal’s first round power play woes, but when it comes to scoring with the man advantage, Tampa hasn’t fared much better in the 2015 postseason so far. Combining for just three power play goals on 50 opportunities between them in Round 1, the Habs and Lightning posted 5% and 6.7% efficiencies in their respective opening series, and will both be looking to bolster those numbers when Round 2 kicks off on Friday night.

HOW LOW CAN THEY GO?: Four of the Canadiens’ six first round games against Ottawa were decided by a single goal, and half of those six saw the lamp lit a combined total of three times or less. That trend may well continue heading into Round 2, as two of this spring’s Top-3 stingiest defenses will meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Montreal and Tampa have allowed an average of 2.00 and 2.14 goals per game through six and seven games, respectively, in April, while Carey Price and Ben Bishop are two of just three remaining playoff netminders with GAAs below 2.00 – proof that sometimes less truly is more.

C-C-C-COMBOBREAKER: Although it may seem strange to accuse this year’s leading playoff goalscorer of being hot and cold, a clear on-and-off pattern has emerged through one round of play when it comes to Lightning forward Tyler Johnson’s nose for the net. Clearly not a fan of grey zones, the 24-year-old center has alternated between being blanked on the scoresheet and picking up a pair of goals – including the game-winner, twice – through seven games so far. Due for another double after scoring a pair in Tampa's Game 2, 4, and 6 wins, the Habs would be wise to keep their eyes on Johnson, and Johnson off the scoreboard, on Friday.


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