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Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning: Players to watch

With the Lightning on deck tonight, we take a look at some of the star players in the series.

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Just like in the first round, we're going to use Bombay Scores to evaluate some of the key players in the Lightning-Canadiens series.

pacioretty stamkos

Steven Stamkos is definitely one of the best goal scorers in the league, but it's clear that Max Pacioretty creates more scoring chances, as well as contributes more offense relative to the rest of his teammates. Neither snipers have been hitting their mark of late, with Pacioretty only managing one even-strength goal in the first round, and Stamkos with none. The series should favour whichever team gets their best goal-scorer going first. If the Habs hope to keep Stamkos off the board they'll have to shut down the neutral zone, a lot like what the Red Wings did in the first round.

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The Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat line is one of the most consistent scoring threats in the league. They outmatch Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher, and Alex Galchenyuk in almost every category. That's part of what makes Tampa Bay so dangerous - not only do you have the unenviable task of stopping Stamkos, you have to deal with one of the most solid lines in the NHL as well.

Johnson's line scored seven goals in the first round, compared to three from Plekanec's trio, indicating that not only did Tampa have the better line during the regular season, but they're also benefiting from continued production in the playoffs. What's more, Johnson's line actually started most of their shifts in the defensive zone against the Red Wings. If they are allowed to wheel and deal freely in the offensive zone it may be a short series for the Canadiens.

defense bombay

P.K. Subban wins the young-gun comparison by a healthy margin, however Anton Stralman holds an edge over Andrei Markov. Essentially, neither pairing has a distinct edge over the other, especially considering how much Markov struggled against the Senators.

Which leaves us with the goaltenders, and as we all know that's the area where the Habs will forever hold an edge as long as Carey Price has a say in the matter. It's probably the most obvious statement going, but Price will have to be incredibly sharp throughout the series if Montreal hopes to make it to the Eastern Conference finals. When it comes to relying heavily on a goaltender, it's rarely a sound strategy, but the fact of the matter is that Price is a very rare goalie. Most pundits are saying Tampa Bay is the favourite to win this series, and with good reason, but that may not matter to Michel Therrien's great equalizer.

(You can find Emmanuel Perry's Bombay Chart right here, and I strongly encourage you to take a look and have some fun with the program. It can be very addictive. As per usual with most great hockey analytics applications, the numbers are sourced from war-on-ice.com.)