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Tonight, the Eastern Conference Final begins. Our HabsWorld pundits provide their predictions on this series to see who will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Islanders

Norm Szcyrek predicts: Lightning in 5 games
Kevin Leveille predicts: Lightning in 5 games
Brian La Rose predicts: Lightning in 6 games
Allan Katz predicts: Islanders in 7 games

(Norm) I really like this Islanders team. Their structure is sound and they play great team defence while having an experienced coach and solid goaltending. However, the Lightning has been much more dominant during their two playoff series, winning ten games and losing only three. They have done that without their captain Steven Stamkos, who has been out since February 25th and already ruled out for this series. Nikita Kucherov was knocked out of the last game against the Boston Bruins, but head coach Jon Cooper said he expects to play for game one of the Islanders series. In the end, the Lightning will be the dominant team.

(Kevin) This series has everything required to be a four-gamer… on paper. The Lightning have the Vezina candidate, the perennial All-Star defender, the depth, and the talent up front. Yet, the Islanders have heard this story before. They’ve been selected for elimination in every round thus far and have knocked off some big teams along the way too. With the Lightning getting the big break here, I think the Islanders need to win the first, if not the first two games here and catch the Lightning napping just to stand a chance. Otherwise, I think the Lightning have exorcised their mental issues with the win over Columbus and they are poised to make quick work of the surprising Islanders. I’m going with Tampa in five.

(Brian) Tampa Bay is well-rested and while that might work against them really early in the series, it will be to their benefit as the series progresses.  In getting through Washington, the Islanders beat a good offence.  In beating Philadelphia, they beat a good goalie.  Now, they face both of those elements together.  New York has shown me enough to not write them off entirely but they are the clear underdogs here.  On paper, this series should go quicker than six but I think the Isles will find a way to pick up a couple of games.

(Allan) Without a doubt, Tampa Bay has the better team. The islanders might be on an incredible hot streak but Tampa got as far by obviously playing well too. If Tampa is running on all cylinders, the team should win. For the sake of the game, an Islander victory will generate more excitement than a T.B. prognosis. Why is there even a team in Tampa? Outside of eleven thousand core fans and four billion mosquitoes, does anyone in Tampa care? Can you imagine a Vegas/New York. final? I can. Islanders beat the Bay.

Western Conference Final predictions