COMMENTARY | Any preview for the Bruins-Lightning Game 7 showdown would be hard to make, given how the series has gone so far. Momentum has not been a factor, as each team has bounced back from disappointing results at one time or another. After Tampa Bay took command to start things off, Boston retook control in Game 2 and 3 before giving it back in Game 4. Since the two finalists split the next two games, the teams are now left with one final showdown for a berth in the Stanley Cup finals.
Anything that could happen in this series has happened, which is why it has gone on for so long. Therefore, trying to predict or preview Game 7 is a difficult task for any fan or expert. However, if there is going to be a sign of how things will go, it will likely come from Boston’s Tim Thomas.
The Bruins goalie has performed in two extremes throughout the series. He has either been red hot, like he was in his Game 3 shutout and Game 5 victory. But when Thomas hasn’t been hot, he has been torn apart by the Lightning, giving up five goals in Games 1, 2 and 6 and four in Game 4 after blowing a 3-0 lead.
Boston has gone as far as Thomas has throughout the postseason, so it is only fitting that it has come to this. Judging by the first six games, it appears that Thomas will either have a classic performance in Game 7 or be shredded for four or five goals, with nothing in between.
Yet even when Thomas has come up short, the Bruins have still put up a fight, due to the Lightning struggling in goal as well. Dwayne Roloson had been the unquestioned leader in goal for the first two rounds, but he has already been pulled a few times in favor of Mike Smith. However, after losing the starting job in Game 5, Roloson got it back and took the Game 6 win, despite giving up four goals.
Although Roloson has been perfect in elimination games in his career, according to the St. Petersburg Times, he still doesn’t appear to be at full strength. Smith will have to lay in wait should Roloson have any problems at all, whereas Boston will stick with Thomas no matter what.
The Bruins-Lightning series hasn’t exactly been a defensive showcase, especially with the likes of Martin St. Louis, David Krejci and Steven Stamkos lighting the lamps. But in a low scoring battle, Thomas has proved more capable of winning those games than both Roloson and Smith.
Yet no preview, prediction or example of past history means anything when a Game 7 starts, especially with a finals berth on the line — as it will be Friday in Boston.
New York Times- “In Game 7, the Bruins Are Counting on Thomas to Be Extraordinary”
Tampabay.com- “Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson ready for another elimination game”