Feb 1, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin (74) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer (2) collide during the over time period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens

Tampa Bay Lightning (A2) vs. Montreal Canadiens (A3)

Series Schedule

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens

Date
Time
Location
Network
April 16th, 20147:00 PMTampa BayCNBC
April 18th, 20147:00 PMTampa BayCNBC
April 20th, 20147:00 PMMontrealNBCSN
April 22nd, 20147:00 PMMontreal NHLN
April 24th, 2014*7:00 PMTampa BayCNBC
April 27th, 2014*TBDMontreal NBCSN
April 29th, 2014*TBDTampa BayCBC

When Steven Stamkos suffered his broken leg, many felt that spelled the end for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yet, somehow they remained in the playoff picture. When Martin St. Louis requested a trade to the New York Rangers and held his team hostage at the NHL Trade Deadline, once again it was expected for Tampa Bay’s playoff chances to free fall. Instead, the Lightning have weathered the storm and attained home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Montreal Canadiens will be representing all of Canada during this years Stanley Cup Playoffs, as they were the only team north of the border to qualify for the post season. Montreal is getting healthy at the right time, and will have some much needed grit back in the lineup with Brandon Prust getting healthy from an upper body injury.

Montreal and Tampa Bay are new division rivals this season, but if you looked at the box scores, you would guess that this series has the makings of an old school NHL rivalry. The Tampa Bay Lightning won three of the four meetings, with the first three games going to overtime. Both teams split shoot out wins.

Tampa Bay gained home ice advantage on the final day of the regular season with a shoot out win over the Washington Capitals. However, home ice may not play a factor in this series. The Montreal Canadiens won 23 games both at home and away. [ NHL.com ]

The key factor in this series may come down to goaltending. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without starter Ben Bishop for the first game of the series, and a time table for his return has yet to be determined. Bishop finished fourth overall in the NHL for wins with 37. Anders Lindback has been covering for Bishop since April 8th and has done quite well, going 3-0-0, with a .975 SV%.

At the other end of the ice is Carey Price, who despite being sidelined with an injury following the Sochi Olympics, has won 8-11 starts with a .932 SV%. Price will look to add the Stanley Cup to his Olympic Gold Medal. [ NHL.com ]

Prediction: Canadiens in 5

Montreal has a strong defense, depth on offense, and the better goaltender. While I expect the games to be close and hard fought battles, like the ones we saw in the regular season, I believe the Canadiens will come out on top in this one. Montreal has shown they can win both at home and on the road. The uncertainty in net for the Lightning will also be a critical factor. Lindback has done well filling in at the end of the regular season, but three games is too small a sample size to make any conclusions on his abilities.

Tags: Atlantic Division Eastern Conference Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Playoffs Tampa Bay Lightning