Eastern Conference Finals defined by unpredictability
Will Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning be a stingy, defensive contest or a wide open, high-scoring affair?
If the rest of the series is any indication -- well, then there is no indication.
The first six games have been anything but consistent. The series, tied 3-3, has included one shutout, four games where the teams have combined for at least seven goals and a heck of a lot of early goals and comebacks.
It seems impossible to try to predict the tempo of Game 7, as the style not only has changed game-to-game, but period-by-period as well.
Here's a look at some of the stats that define this wacky, unpredictable series:
In four of the six games, the winning team trailed at some point of the contest.
The biggest comeback of the series occurred in Game 4 in Tampa. Boston dominated early, grabbing a 3-0 lead after the first period.
Yet the Lightning never gave up, chipping away at the lead until they finally tied the game, 3-3, after two periods. Then Simon Gagne scored what proved to be the game-winner, beating Tim Thomas 6:54 into the third. In all, Tampa Bay scored five unanswered goals to win the game, 5-3, and complete the stunning comeback.
Through the first six games of the series, the teams have combined for six goals in the first 1:09 of a period. Four of those goals have come within the first 1:09 of the game.
But here's something quirky: The Lightning have accounted for three of those goals within the first 1:09 of the game. Adam Hall scored just 13 seconds into Game 2, Gagne tallied 1:09 into Game 4 while Teddy Purcell gave Tampa Bay a quick lead in Game 6 with a goal 36 seconds into the contest.
However in only one of those occurrences -- Game 6 -- did the Lightning actually go on to win the game.
The Lightning entered this series with a stingy defense -- they hadn't allowed more than three goals in their first 11 playoff games. Yet in Game 2, Boston had four goals in less than 27 minutes, erupting for six goals in the contest.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson had a .917 save percentage with a 2.09 goals-against average through the Lightning's first two playoff series, against the Penguins and the Capitals. Yet against the Bruins, the 41-year-old veteran has an .851 save percentage with a 4.32 GAA. Roloson's been pulled twice -- in Games 2 and 4 -- while sitting altogether in Game 5 as backup Mike Smith got the start.
Finally, a stat that seems to make sense. The team winning a majority of the faceoffs has won all six games. But it should be noted: Tampa Bay only held a 34-31 advantage in faceoffs in its Game 6 victory. Pretty close, indeed -- just like this series.