1. NEW BLOOD.
Owner Jeff Vinik, general manager Steve Yzerman, and coach Guy Boucher have created a winning culture in Tampa.
2. THE 1-3-1 NEUTRAL ZONE TRAP.
The core of Boucher’s system. Two forwards and one defenseman stack up in the neutral zone, preventing clean entries and sniffing for turnovers. Once they gain control of the puck, they transition rapidly to net-crashing offense.
3. OLD HAND IN GOAL.
Former UMass-Lowell netminder Dwayne Roloson, acquired from the Islanders on New Year’s Day, has been the best goalie in the playoffs. Roloson has addressed Tampa’s biggest weakness.
4. FRENCH CONNECTION, PART 2.
During the 1990s, when Tim Thomas was their teammate at the University of Vermont, Quebec natives Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin tore up the ECAC. Now, St. Louis and fellow Quebecer Vincent Lecavalier are two of Tampa’s go-to scorers.
5. GRIT AND SKILL.
While Tampa’s skilled attack is as deadly as it gets, much of the Lightning’s success is because of the bottom-six foot soldiers. Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore, Steve Downie, Nate Thompson, and Adam Hall play fewer minutes but important roles.