Tampa Bay's special teams have been an advantage for the Lightning throughout the regular season and into the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, there was no special teams advantage to be had. There were no penalties called on either team, so the entire game was played at even strength.
"Obviously our special teams are phenomenal and have been phenomenal all playoffs, but it was just the type of game we played," goalie Dwayne Roloson
said. "We play a pretty disciplined style of game and so do they. Give the refs credit -- there wasn't anything out there to call. Guys played hard, and did everything they had to do to get in the game, whether it was block shots or hits or whatever was needed."
Added Boston defenseman Andrew Ference
: "The refs let us play. There were penalties that could have been called on either side. But, both teams did have great discipline and played a great hockey game. The refs let us play and I think it was even up and I don't think either team got gypped in that category."
If Ference is correct in saying there were calls that could have been made, then it probably did help the Bruins. Tampa Bay had the sixth-best power play in the League during the regular season and the second-best percentage of any team that reached the second round.
Tampa Bay scored three power-play goals in a span of less than 13 minutes in Game 6 against Boston. The Lightning never found out it if there was any momentum to be carried over with the extra man.
"The power play has been a strength of ours definitely," Tampa Bay Guy Boucher
said. You know you are hoping you get one, but come the third period I wasn't hoping for a power play. Two teams who are very disciplined -- I think we respected each other's strengths and I think this was the type of game that [could have] 0-0 penalties. I can't think of any moment I felt there should have been a power play on either side -- that's credit to both teams' discipline and attention to details."
Conversely, the Lightning erased 92.3 percent of opposing teams' extra-man opportunities during this postseason while the Bruins are 5-for-61 with the man advantage. Even if there was a penalty or two called on the Lightning, Tampa Bay may have been to cobble together some momentum by keeping Boston off the scoreboard with the extra man.
Instead, this game played out at even strength. Boston led the NHL in goal ratio at even strength in the regular season and is doing so again during the playoffs.
"We didn't mind that at all," Boston coach Claude Julien
said. "I think what I liked about the refereeing tonight, they let the two teams decide the outcome. And I think both teams are very disciplined tonight. Even though, you know, we could question that call, it didn't really matter at that point. It was about staying focused and doing the right thing here. I thought for what this game meant, I thought the referees handled themselves extremely well. I'm not saying that because we won, I'm saying that because even as it was 0-0, I liked the way they were handling it."