Last year at this time, I breezed through my first round prediction breakdown.
Lightning in six games. It took seven and the boys barely got out that series alive.
Fast forward to this year. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who will predict a deep playoff run for the boys, let alone a opening series win over Detroit.
I think we are so consumed with the trials of the Lightning's health, we subconsciously elevate their opposition's strengths.
The only thing that keeps the Lightning from pounding this Red Wings team into an early exit is injury.
But it's real and can't determine its severity. Just because a player is playing doesn't mean he will be effective.
IE: Tyler Johnson in the SCF last year with broken hand.
There is a luxury this Lightning organization has that most in the league do not. Tremendous depth.
You name me one team right now that can go into their minor league system and find a replacement for Steven Stamkos with the skill level of a Jonathan Drouin. Answer-none.
Not to say Stammer won't be missed in this series. But a year ago, Detroit held him scoreless.
Just as the Lightning have had trouble scoring, so have the Red Wings. Averaging 2.55 goals per game, the Red Wings might find scoring opportunities shrink even further in this series.
The Bolts are averaging 2.38 goals against, while their penalty kill has been impressive.
It's their power play that has been mostly a waste of two minutes. If you are looking to bestow luck on the Bolts, which they will need to get through this series, is on the power play. Positive karma needs to develop there.
I can go on and on in matchups, etc. I prefer to give you more a gut call this time around.
I listen to the players. I check out their demeanor. I look to see how alert or tired they are. On Wednesday when I attend morning skate, we'll get our final observation which I will give you on ABC Action News at 6..
But for those of you looking for a pre pre-series prognostication, here it is.
Lightning in seven games.
This series will be physical. Detroit will try and expose the Lightning injuries. When it all comes down to the defining moment, it will be goalie Ben Bishop over Jimmy Howard.
Head Coach Jon Cooper wasn't too enamored with an article stating its Bishop's series, he needs to carry the team on his back.
That article is on the money. Bishop has to be at the top of his game. He got them here, he has to keep them alive.
What's the saying? "Stand on his head." That would be nice and well timed.