The Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, starting on Friday night at the Igloo and as we look down the list, we see Ben Bishop will take on Matt Murray in net and Sidney Crosby will get Tyler Johnson in Box 13. Where's Marc-Andre Fleury? What about Steven Stamkos? Has this world gone mad?
No, this year's playoffs certainly has a different feel to it and it's all culminating in the East.
As the match-up goes between the two teams, the Penguins have a 108-56 selection advantage in the hockey pool, so they are expected to the the ones through, not like the playoff brackets have gone the way the pool has wanted yet. Evgeni Malkin is the most popular player in this series, having been taken 20 times in Box 18, while the most popular Lightning player this year is Jason Garrison in Box 23, taken 13 times.
Those who do have stock in the Lightning are in really good shape to move up the ranks. Unfortunately, you're probably out of luck for the money, if you're not already in the top two teams, as the number of players left are not great. With only a maximum of six players left in the Eastern Conference, there is very little chance you're going to make enough points to catch Stuart or Kristy, which is too bad. Everyone likes a race, especially late on in the playoffs.
14 points is a lot to try and make up for a change in leaders in these Conference Finals, but there is certainly a chance, if the Penguins make quick work of the Lightning in this series. It would have to be in the four or five games range and the Penguins would have to do some significant scoring, but it isn't out of the question, here in the East.
Stuart's team is the only one in the top four that has significant investment in the Lightning and if this series is to go the distance, his key players will likely keep him afloat most comfortably into the Stanley Cup Finals, regardless of the result.
Let's drop the puck already!