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Lightning Ready for Round 2 Written by Laci Bloomers - May 23rd, 2009

Round 2 of the CMHL 2009 Playoffs kick off tomorrow as the Tampa Bay Lightning travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on the Cardiac 'Canes in what promises to be an entertaining series.

The Lightning took the final 4 games in Round 1 as they dropped the Montreal Canadiens in 5, including the longest game in CMHL history.

The Hurricanes were all over the place as it took them 7 games to dop the pesky New Jersey Devils in their opening round.

The series promises to be a battle from the General Managers right down to the final minute on the ice.

The underdog Lightning are just fine with that. 

Healthy, rested, and confident, the pucksters from Tampa Bay can't wait to get it on.  The series promises to be an epic battle between David and Goliath. 

The Hurricanes, while not winning the Eastern crown, are probably the best example of balance in the East.  A potent offence that currently features 3 players already in double digits in points, the 'Canes racked up 28 goals against the Devils in thier 7 game set, including an 8-0 drubbing in Game 5.  Brian Rolston and Mats Sundin picked up 7 and 6 goals respectively against the Devils.  The concern for 'Canes coach Tony "my sister is better than me" Granato has to be the 21 goals they allowed.  During the regular season, Carolina was the tightest team in the East, just edging out the Lightning in the last 3 games.  In the playoffs, however, Ryan Miller has not played that way.  Take the shutout away from Miller in a blow-out game that his team obviously owned, and he allowed 19 goals in 317 minutes against a team that scored 22 goals less than the Bolts during the season.

T-Bay peaked at the right time.  The last 3 months they have been the best team in the CMHL.  The chemistry seems to be there, and their defensive play has been the key in the playoffs.  Where the Hurricanes averaged 4 goals per game against the Devils, the Lightning averaged 3.2 per game against a tougher Montreal team.  The 'Canes sported a mediocre 2.78 goals against average versus the Devils, while the Bolts wrapped up the Montreal series at 1.86.

During the regular season, the Hurricanes took ownership, winning 6 of 8 games, outscoring the Lightning 31-25.

If the playing style is different for these teams, the management staff is maybe moreso.  The Hurricanes are coached by a quiet, unassuming Tony Granato who got his team rolling in the regular season and almost won the Conference title.  The Lightning are coached by Dave Tippett, who endured a 24 game stretch this season where his club failed to string together back to back wins, losses or ties, yet could not have been much better the final couple of months.  The Lightning General Manager has just completed his first season in the league, having taken over the Lightning club late in January of last season.  The Hurricane GM came back after retiring and joining the CMHL Hall of Fame.

All in all, this promises to be one heck of a series.

 

- Laci Bloomers reporting -

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