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Breakdown: Flames vs. Lightning


5-on-5
Too close to call because Calgary and Tampa Bay are so much alike. Both teams bring an all-out attack on the forecheck; both backcheck like demons; and each team has an underrated defensive unit. Add to that the star power on both sides -- Jarome Iginla for the Flames and Martin St. Louis for the Lightning -- and each team has the potential to do some damage at even strength.



Tampa Bay power play vs. Calgary penalty kill
Calgary's penalty kill success rate is below 84 percent, and Tampa is on a big-time roll with its power play. The Lightning scored 10 man-advantage goals in their seven-game Eastern Conference finals victory over Philadelphia -- at least one in each of the last six games. Tampa has the clear edge.


Calgary power play vs. Tampa Bay penalty kill
The Tampa penalty kill absolutely dismantled Philadelphia's power play in the conference finals, allowing just one goal in seven games. With Calgary's power play converting at less than an 11 percent clip, the Lightning have the advantage.


Goaltending
Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff has been on an amazing run, and with the exception of a couple of bad games, he has been virtually unbeatable. Tampa's Nikolai Khabibulin has been good as well, but Kiprusoff and the Flames had to go through three division winners -- Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose -- with high-powered offenses to get to the Finals. It has been a tougher road for Calgary, and that experience helps.


Coaching
Tampa's John Tortorella and Calgary's Darryl Sutter are a lot alike. Both are intense, and while they are demanding of
their players, they are also fair. Sutter does have more playoff experience, but Tortorella has more offensive power up front and showed with a masterful job against the Flyers that he knows what he's doing.


Intangibles
The Flames will have have had five days off since eliminating San Jose in the Western Conference finals, while two days is not enough time for the Lightning to decompress after the huge Game 7 win over Philadelphia. Tampa is no doubt banged up, battling nicks, bumps, bruises and likely some more serious injuries that have been concealed. The Lightning have learned how to stifle teams at home in the playoffs, but the Flames have the edge early on because of recovery time.


Prediction
Tampa Bay in seven ... but Miikka Kiprusoff wins the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.