Nothing goes according to plan with Bruins, Bolts

Lightning head coach Guy Boucher talks to his team during Game 6 of the NHL Eastern Conference...

Lightning head coach Guy Boucher talks to his team during Game 6 of the NHL Eastern Conference final against the Bruins in Tampa, Fla., May 25, 2011. (STEVE NESIUS/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:53 AM ET

BOSTON - In a series that has defied prediction, there are but a couple left for the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Somebody's going home Friday night.

Or early Saturday morning, however long it takes.

Somebody's going to Vancouver to play the Canucks in the final.

Other than that, based on the way this series has gone, with each team taking its turn imposing its will, there are few things we can take for granted.

"I think life is what happens after we plan it," said Tampa coach Guy Boucher with one of those head scratchers that makes sense after a few minutes or a few beers, whichever come first.

"There are things that go according to our plan, but the game never really goes according to the plan."

Which is probably why we love it.

Especially Game 7s.

Hands up anybody who thought the Bolts and Bruins, among the best defensive teams in the playoffs, would combine for an average of almost seven goals a game through six games (41 in six) with 33 of them coming at even strength?

That the Bruins power play would still be as bad as it is to the point where going 1-for-5 is viewed as some kind of breakthrough?

That there would be a goal within the first 69 seconds in four of the first six games?

That the teams scoring that first early goal would be only 2-2?

"Well, I'm not going to expect anything," Boucher said of Game 7, "because every time we expect something, the opposite happens."

Said Tampa forward Simon Gagne: "Teams are coming out hard. They get momentum for 20 minutes. Then the other team has got the momentum.

"You need to understand now you have two good teams on the ice and at one point you're going to face the best of what they can bring and they're going to face the best what we can bring, too.

"So that might explain sometimes why you see a team struggle for 20 minutes and then coming back."

The Bruins couldn't get the job done in Game 6 against the Bolts, same as what happened to them in the opening round against the Montreal Canadiens. They had a chance to close out the Habs on the road and couldn't do it, but came back and won in overtime on home ice in Game 7.

"There's no reason to be tight," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I think right now you have to look at the opportunity. And if you're a team that has been resilient, a team that believes in itself, you've got to be positive. I think there's no other way to look at it.

"You don't look at failure, you look at success. And right now we're looking at success."

The best players on each team have taken turns putting their imprint on this series. Friday night will be no different.

Tampa's Marty St. Louis was unhappy with his Game 5 performance (minus-2, two shots in the Bolts' 3-1 loss). After some pre-game words for his teammates, he went out and had two goals and an assist in Game 6 to keep the Lightning alive.

The guy is one of the great leaders in the game. OK, maybe one more prediction: St. Louis will be flying.

"He has that capability at any moment of any game, or after playing in a bad game or a bad period, to bounce back, because what follows after failure for him is an opportunity rather than a moment where there could be failure," Boucher said.

"So I think it starts in his mind. Definitely, he's very strong mentally and certainly has an effect on the rest of the group."

That's it for the predictions, though I did say before the series started it would be the Bruins in seven.

After watching St. Louis in Game 6, I'm not feeling so good about that.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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