Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
What a remarkable season for the Pittsburgh Penguins this year.
Prior to the season, much was made about the Penguins new look lines featuring Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin.
Then, Staal had to have foot surgery and broke his hand.
The Penguins only played with Sidney Crosby, Malkin and Staal all in the lineup twice this year.
Yet, they still managed to capture 104 points and the number four seed in the playoffs.
While it is uncertain if Crosby will be able to play in the first round, it may not matter. This team has changed it's style to be much more defensively oriented; something most Penguins fans would think to be impossible given the defensive play of last year (Michalek and Martin are the unsung heroes of the team).
On the other hand, the Lightning struggled the last quarter of the season. They were ahead of Washington for much of the season, yet relinquished the lead.
The Lightning appear to be able to score with anyone with the likes of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. But Stamkos has cooled off from his fast paced start.
They finished the season with only a plus seven goal differential, and have 41 year old Dwayne Roloson as their backstop.
What it all comes down to is what style either team can impose. If this gets into an up-and-down battle, expect the Lightning to come out on top.
But I believe that the Penguins will be able to impose their grind-it-out style on the Lightning, much like they have done all season despite injuries to Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Letestu, Jeffrey, Orpik, and a number of others.
Prediction: Penguins in 7