NHL Playoffs 2011: 5 Predictions for the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Series

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NHL Playoffs 2011: 5 Predictions for the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Series
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning are about to begin one of the most hotly debated playoff matchups of the opening round.

The Penguins have lost their two superstars—Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin—to injury, but still boast one of the best defenses in the league and the only Stanley Cup-winning goalie in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins also own the league's best penalty kill, which should help to quell the Lightning's powerful power play.

The Lightning have a potent offense, led by superstars Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, but their questions lie on defense and in net.

The Lightning don't have a premiere shutdown defenseman, but second-year pro Victor Hedman is steadily emerging as a quality blueliner.

Dwayne Roloson has been good in net for the Lightning, but at age 42, some people are wondering if he will be able to hold up for a playoff run.

This matchup also features a head-to-head battle of two probable Jack Adams Trophy finalists behind the bench. Dan Bylsma and Guy Boucher have both had extremely good years coaching, and it will be interesting to see how Boucher's fast, offensive system fares against Bylsma's cautious, defensive structure.

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