Five things the Montreal Canadiens will need to do to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL playoffs:
Power play punch—The Canadiens went 0-for-23 with the man advantage in their last eight games. They were 19th in the NHL with a 17.2 per cent success rate this season, but they have the guns to score more with P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov on the points. The Lightning had only the 23rd best penalty-killing at 80.7 per cent.
Beat the big goalie—They had only four goals in as many games against Tampa Bay’s six-foot-seven goalie Ben Bishop this season. While Bishop is injured, his replacement, six-foot-six Anders Lindback, was the NHL’s first star of the final week of the season at 3-0-0 with two shutouts.
Stop Stamkos – The Lightning’s star may be the NHL’s most dangerous scorer. Lines centred by Tomas Plekanec and Lars Eller will likely be assigned to check him, but minimizing the Stamkos factor is a job for all the Canadiens on the ice.
Patience please—The Lightning is a disciplined checking team that waits for opponents to get frustrated and start taking risks, then jumps on the mistakes. Three of their four games this season were 1-1 and went to overtime. Expect the same in the playoffs.
Vanek factor—Picking up veteran scorer Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline gave Montreal a hot top line with David Desharnais and 39-goal scorer Max Pacioretty. Now they need Vanek to be what they were looking for—a force on attack in the post-season.