Series breakdown: Penguins (4) vs. Lightning (5)
The Lightning adopted first-year coach Guy Boucher's philosophies to great effect. His 1-3-1 neutral zone alignment caused many teams problems, but the Bolts' propensity to pressure aggressively with two defensemen down low had more mixed results: Tampa Bay gave up the most even-strength goals of any playoff team. Special teams, though, are another matter, as only the Lightning, Canadiens and Canucks ranked in the NHL's top-10 in both power-play and penalty kill efficiency.
For all of Pittsburgh's discipline in following coach Dan Bylsma's plans, the Pens still took the most minor penalties of any team in the NHL. You see where I'm going with this: If the Lightning get on the power play to the degree they did all season, they will test the Pens' top-ranked penalty-kill. If the Penguins can stay out of the box and play at even strength and down low in Tampa's zone, they will prevail. Of course, if Sidney Crosby Is cleared for contact and can play in this series -- his first action since he was concussed by a hit from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman on Jan. 5 -- that will add another dimension entirely.