2011 NHL Playoffs: 5 Predictions for Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightning

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2011 NHL Playoffs: 5 Predictions for Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Elsa/Getty Images
There will be plenty of hard hits dished out by Boston and Tampa Bay like this one

After two rounds of the NHL 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, two Eastern Conference teams remain skating.

The first round saw the Boston Bruins eliminate arch-rival Montreal Canadiens in seven games. A series in which Boston lost Games 1 and 2 then stormed back to win four out of the next five games. Goaltender Tim Thomas and winger Nathan Horton led the way for the Bruins.

After dispatching Montreal, Boston faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers. Last season, the Flyers staged a historical come back in the second round of the playoffs, as they went from trailing the Bruins three games to none to win the series in seven games.

All of the talk going into this year's playoff series centered around that Flyers comeback. This season, in deja vu fashion, Boston, again, took a three games to none lead over Philadelphia but another comeback was not in the cards for the Flyers as the black and gold, led by center David Krejci, thoroughly dominated the team once known as the Broad Street Bullies and captured the fourth game by a score of 5-1, ending Philadelphia's plans of returning to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The series victory has put the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1991. 

In this season's Eastern Conference Final, Boston will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning made it to the third round by defeating Pittsburgh in seven games, a series in which Tampa Bay trailed the Penguins three games to one. Only to win the final three games.

In the second round, the Bolts overwhelmed the 1-seed Washington Capitals by sweeping a hard fought series. The Lightning scored 16 goals but allowed 11. This will be Tampa Bay's first trip back to the Eastern Conference Final since their Stanley Cup winning season of 2004.

During the regular season, Boston and Tampa Bay met four times with the Bruins winning three of the matches by a combined score of 15-8. All of the games were played before the Lightning acquired goaltender Dwayne Roloson who has played a major role in the Lightning's playoff success.

With each team just four wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals, here are five predictions to watch for in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.   

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