No. 3 vs. No 5; Bruins beat Montreal in seven games in first round, and then swept Philadelphia in the second round. Lightning beat Pittsburgh in seven games in the first round, and then swept Washington in the second round.
The goalies could be the stars of this show. At 37, the Bruins' Tim Thomas
will be the youngster in his battle against 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson
. It's Boston's first appearance in the conference finals since 1992, while the Lightning are there for the first time since their Cup-winning season of 2004.
Right here, right now:
The Bruins won three of four regular-season meetings, including a pair of one-goal wins. However, three of the games were played prior to the Lightning acquiring Dwayne Roloson
, and he didn't play the one time the teams met after he joined Tampa Bay.
Each team survived difficult seven-game series, and then the Lightning and Bruins completed their second-round sweeps 24 hours apart. Now each will get a few days to rest before starting the series in Boston.
How important to win first game:
Each team lost Game 1 in the first round and emerged victorious, and then each team won Game 1 of the second round en route to four-game sweeps. All it shows is each will be comfortable and confident whether ahead in the series or behind.
The great unknown:
How will the Lightning handle going this deep into the playoffs? They entered the postseason with eight players making their postseason debuts, plus two more with fewer than 10 games of playoff experience. Can the Bruins' scoring depth continue to provide offense? Boston got goals from eight different forwards in its four second-round games.
Boston played like a team on a mission in the second round against Philadelphia. It exorcised its ghosts from last year by winning three of four games by four goals. In its sweep of the Capitals, the Lightning won two games by one goal and another by one goal plus an empty-netter.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK