2011 NHL Playoffs: Why the Tampa Bay Lightning Will Win Game 7

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2011 NHL Playoffs: Why the Tampa Bay Lightning Will Win Game 7
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
The Lightning will be ready in Game 7.

The Tampa Bay Lightning evened up the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night with a 5-4 victory over the Boston Bruins.

In the past few games, Tampa Bay has seemingly been the better team in the series. Their offensive zone pressure has been more consistent than Boston's, and if it wasn't for the spectacular goaltending by Tim Thomas in Game 5, the Lightning could have clinched the series by now.

As a result, fans and the organization alike should be optimistic about their chances in Game 7 Friday night in Boston. If they continue the style of play that they have exhibited lately, the Lightning will win and move on to face the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Although net-minder Dwayne Roloson had a .800 save percentage in Game 6, there is no reason to believe that he will not step up his game on Friday. The 41-year-old goaltender does not have time on his side, meaning that this may be Roloson's best chance to win the Stanley Cup. He was on fire in the Capitals series, and if he can replicate one of those performances in Boston, the Lightning will be moving on.

For the Bruins, Tim Thomas has been outstanding for the most part, but his outing in Game 6 suggests that there are cracks in his armor. Allowing five goals on 26 shots, Thomas seemed to let the big game pressure get to him, and this can only bode well for Tampa Bay. Granted, Thomas could have one of those spectacular performances on Friday, something that he has proven he can accomplish, but the offensive firepower for the Lightning will make that difficult to achieve.

Another key factor that might come into play in Game 7 is the pressure factor for Boston. They were expected to make it this far by their top executives, and with this aura of pressure surrounding them, it will be interesting to see if they can answer the bell. On the other hand, Tampa Bay is playing like they have nothing to lose. The Lightning can capitalize on this, and if they do, they will win Game 7.

In the end, in a Game 7, it is tough to expect a goaltender to stop everything in sight and produce a shutout. Since this is the case, it is tough to envision Boston winning this game, even though they are at home. With Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning have three guys that can score at any given moment. Couple that with a great supporting cast of players, and the Lightning have the upper hand in this game. They know how to score, and they will exhibit this on Friday night. Tampa Bay has been the better team in this series, and therefore, they will come out victorious. Get ready for a Vancouver-Tampa Bay Stanley Cup Finals.

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