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Two X-factors for each team

Let’s take a look at two x-factors for the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning who should play pivotal roles in determining the outcome of this second round Stanley Cup Playoff series.

The best series of the entire 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs could easily be the second round matchup between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

These are the two top teams in the league.

The Bruins had the best record in the regular season and a league-high plus-53 goal differential. The Lightning tied for the third-best record and earned the second-highest goal differential at plus-50. Each team won its first round series in five games.

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Both the Bruins and Lightning have deep rosters, plenty of postseason experience and lots to prove after disappointing exits from the 2019 playoffs. It’s hard to envision this series lasting fewer than six games, and it wouldn’t be surprising if a Game 7 is needed.

Here are two x-factors for each team who should play pivotal roles in determining the outcome of the series.

BOSTON BRUINS

Jaroslav Halak, G

Halak didn’t play in any of the five previous meetings between these teams this season. In fact, Halak has never played against the Lightning as a member of the B’s. His last appearance versus Tampa Bay came in the 2017-18 campaign with the New York Islanders.

Halak should start every game in this series, barring some sort of injury. He played well against the Hurricanes, winning the last three games of the series after replacing Tuukka Rask as Boston’s starting netminder. Halak only gave up five goals in those three matchups. One of those goals was the result of a horrendous pass he made from behind his own net in Game 3, and two of them were soft goals he should’ve stopped in Game 4. Halak had a .940 save percentage in 135:39 of 5-on-5 ice time versus Carolina, and he made saves on nine of the 10 high-danger shots against him. He also stopped 14 of 15 shots when the Bruins were on the penalty kill.

The Bruins have enough offensive firepower to win a high-scoring series against the Lightning, but their job would be made so much easier if Halak is able to give them a couple good performances. Halak doesn’t have to be elite for Boston to win this series, he just needs to be better than his career stats versus Tampa Bay — an .892 save percentage and a 2.93 goals against average in 10 games.

Jake DeBrusk, LW

The Lightning areā€¦

Nick Goss

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