The Lightning (54-23-5, 113 points) won the Atlantic Division, while the Bruins (50-20-12, 112 points) were second. Boston won three of four games against Tampa Bay, outscoring the Lightning 10-8.
First line. The Bruins boast the best line in the NHL, with Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. They posted 27 goals at even strength in the regular season, giving up 17. While the line went dormant in Games 5 and 6 against the Leafs, it roared back to life in Game 7 with three goals and four assists.
Steven Stamkos (1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points in Round 1) and Nikita Kucherov (5-1-6) were always a dynamic duo, but trade-deadline addition J.T. Miller (1-3-4) has added a north-south, gritty element to the line that's made it even more dangerous. Advantage: Bruins
Depth. Remember the Triplets? Well, Kucherov graduated to the top line, but Tyler Johnson (2-1-3) and Ondrej Palat (1-3-4) are still doing their thing, skating with Brayden Point (1-2-3). Alex Killorn had four goals in the first round and has 19 postseason goals in his career. He skated with Anthony Cirelli and outstanding rookie Yanni Gourde (25 goals in the regular season). Cedric Paquette is a delightful pest. Four-time Cup champion Chris Kunitz probably has another big playoff goal in him, though he didn't tally a point in Round 1.
David Krejci (2-6-8) and Jake DeBrusk (5-2-7) are offensive forces on the Bruins' second line. Rick Nash (2 points in seven games) is also on that line. David Backes, Danton Heinen and Sean Kuraly (2-2-4) bring some energy. Waiting in the wings: Rookie Ryan Donato. Advantage: Lightning
Defense. Victor Hedman (26:24 time on ice in Round 1) is a dominant force, and the Lightning aren't afraid to use him with a variety of defensive partners. Trade-deadline prize Ryan McDonagh (four assists) and Anton Stralman were a plus-4 in shot attempts against the Devils and were the Lightning's most consistent pairing. Rookie Mikhail Sergachev and veterans Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn round out the group. They have Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin and Andrej Sustr for depth.
The ageless Zdeno Chara and rookie Charlie McAvoy will likely be tasked with slowing down the Stamkos line. Torey Krug (2-7-9) leads all defensemen in postseason scoring. Kevan Miller, rookie Matt Grzelcyk and rugged veteran Adam McQuaid round out the blue line. Advantage: Lightning
Goaltending. After a shaky few weeks leading up to the playoffs, Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy posted a .941 save percentage overall and a .945 at even strength in an impressive performance against the Devils. Tuukka Rask ... well, he didn't do much to quiet the drumbeat of his critics, with a first-round performance that yielded an .899 save percentage and a 2.94 goals-against average. (Rask did have a .913 save percentage at even strength.) Advantage: Lightning
Special teams. The Lightning were 5-for-25 against the Devils on the power play, after finishing third in the NHL during the regular season at 23.9 percent. But the penalty kill was quite ordinary in the regular season, finishing 28th in the league (76.1 percent). The Lightning were 16-of-19 against the Devils.
The Bruins were 7-for-22 on the power play against the Leafs, after finishing fourth in the NHL during the regular season (23.5). The Bruins were only 11-for-15 on the kill against Toronto but were a sterling 83.7 percent in the regular season. Advantage: Bruins
Health. The Bruins are without defenseman Brandon Carlo, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The Lightning are both healthy and well-rested. Advantage: Lightning
Coaching. Jon Cooper's high puck pressure system works well with this personnel, but he's able to adapt to what his opponent gives him; he did well in getting the matchups he wanted against the Devils. He's been at the helm for two long playoff runs with this team. Bruce Cassidy, a Jack Adams nominee, was impressive in the first round as far as managing his personnel and his team's emotions. Advantage: Lightning