2015 Stanley Cup Playoff Preview – Lightning vs. Red Wings

Updated: April 14, 2015 at 12:51 pm by Brock Seguin


Lightning Red Wings
G/PG 3.16 (1st) 2.82 (10th)
GA/PG 2.51 (12th) 2.57 (15th)
PP% 18.8% (t-13th) 23.8% (2nd)
PK% 83.7% (t-7th) 80.9% (t-16th)

Tampa Bay Lightning Lines

Detroit Red Wings Lines

Season Series

Tampa Bay won 3-1-0

Nov. 9 – TBL 4 – 3 DET (SO)

Jan. 29 – TBL 5 -1 DET

Mar. 20 – TBL 3 – 1 DET

Mar. 28 – DET 4 – 0 TBL

This will be the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings first ever playoff meeting.

Tampa Bay took care of Detroit in the first three meetings this season, but the Red Wings took it to the Lightning in their most recent meeting.

Tampa Bay and Detroit were pretty much neck-and-neck all season long, until the Red Wings faltered down the stretch and had to claw their way to their 24th consecutive postseason berth. The Lightning come in having gone 8-3-1 while averaging 3.25 goals per game in their last 12 games of the season. The Red Wings on the other hand went 5-4-3 in their final 12 and battled some serious goaltending issues down the stretch.

The inconsistency’s between the pipes will see the Red Wings turn to 23-year-old Petr Mrazek to make his first career NHL playoff start in Game 1. Mrazek has gone 16-9-2 with a 2.38 GAA and .918 SV% in 26 starts this season. Mrazek has AHL playoff experience, having led the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup in 2013.

Despite being five years older, Ben Bishop has the same amount of playoff experience…None. He missed last year’s playoffs with a hand injury. This year he ranked fourth in Wins (40), 15th in GAA (2.32) and 22nd in SV% (.916).

This will be an exciting matchup because each team has a trio of young, talented forwards.

For the Lightning there is Ondrej Palat (24 years old), Tyler Johnson (24) and Nikita Kucherov (21). That trio combined for 73 goals and 126 assists (199 points) in 234 games (0.85 points per game).

In the Motor City they have Gustav Nyquist (25), Tomas Tatar (24) and Riley Sheahan (23), who had a combined for 69 goals and 77 assists (146 points) in 243 games (0.60 P/PG).

In addition to those youngsters, three of the NHL’s best forwards will be featured in this series. Steven Stamkos finished second in the league with 43 goals and he will likely go head-to-head with one of the top two-way forwards, Pavel Datsyuk. The 36-year-old had 65 points (26G / 39A) in 63 games this year—had he stayed healthy all season, he was on-pace to finish third in the NHL in scoring. The Red Wings also have Henrik Zetterberg. The two were split up in practice on Monday and that will likely be the case in Game 1. They will be the primary source of offence, but will be leaned on heavily to shut-down the Lightning’s top two lines.

On the blue line, both teams rely on a mix of veteran and young defensemen. Victor Hedman had three points in four games during last year’s sweep at the hands of the Canadiens. This year it will be Hedman and veteran Anton Stralman who will man the power-play for the Lightning while Detroit has Niklas Kronwall and Marek Zidlicky, who will see his first postseason action since 2011-12.

This series, like many, will come down to goaltending. I think the Red Wings have the offensive fire power and shutdown forwards to contain the Lightning, but they need Mrazek or Jimmy Howard to make timely saves.

Series Prediction: Red Wings win in 7

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk

Series X-Factor: Petr Mrazek

Other Eastern Conference Series Previews:

Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders

Anton Stralman, Ben Bishop, Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins, Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, Marek Zidlicky, Nikita Kucherov, Niklas Kronwall, Ondrej Palat, Pavel Datsyuk, Petr Mrazek, Riley Sheahan, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tomas Tatar, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman