Nova Scotia·Analysis

NHL playoffs: Crosby, Drouin, Bowness give matchup Nova Scotia feel

The NHL's Eastern Conference final between Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh has local hockey fans wondering who they should cheer for.

While Sidney Crosby has been held in check, Jonathan Drouin is playing his best hockey

Sidney Crosby (left) and his Penguins take on Tampa Bay's Jonathan Drouin (centre) and the Lightnig's assistant coach Rick Bowness (right) in the first game of the Eastern Conference final tonight. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images, Alan Diaz/AP, Geoff Howe/CP)

With the NHL's Eastern Conference final starting tonight in Pittsburgh with the Penguins hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning, here are six hockey storylines with a Nova Scotia connection to keep your eye on over the next two weeks.

Tampa Bay takes on the Penguins tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

Sidney Crosby

Cole Harbour's Sid the Kid hasn't had to be at his best, thanks to the rest of his team, which is still cruising along and doing just fine.

Crosby has 10 points in the first two series against the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, but the Penguins captain isn't playing like a star.

But then again, he doesn't have to.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both playing subpar, offensively, but that's okay when your team is rolling four solid lines and getting production from just about everyone.

Defenceman Kris Letang just might be the playoff MVP so far, but don't be surprised to see Crosby come to life against the Lightning.

Most hockey observers are surprised he's been this quiet to date, especially when you consider he was the league's top scorer in the second half of the regular season.

Jonathan Drouin

What a year it's been for former Halifax Mooseheads star Jonathan Drouin.

In and out of Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman's doghouse all season, Drouin has saved his season by playing the best hockey of his young career in the Lightning's playoff wins over the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders.

With Montreal, Toronto and Boston failing to make the playoffs a lot of people have jumped on Pittsburgh's bandwagon to cheer on Crosby.

But Mooseheads fans will likely be pulling for Tampa. They know just how deadly he can be in the post-season.

While with the Mooseheads, Drouin racked up a whopping 102 points in only 50 playoff games.

Rick Bowness

At the age of 61, Halifax's Rick Bowness is still chasing his dream of winning a Stanley Cup.

Tampa Bay's assistant coach played 10 seasons of professional hockey but never came close to winning Lord Stanley's coveted mug.

He's now in his 33rd season as a professional coach. Bowness is hoping to top his 2011 coaching season in Vancouver when he came within just one game of winning the cup.

Now in his third year with the Lightning, Bowness is running the team's defence. He'll have his hands full against the Penguins four-deep lines that put constant pressure on the opponent's defence.

Rest assured, Bowness is hoping to delay his return to the Oakfield Golf and Country club by advancing to the Stanley Cup final for one more crack at the championship.

Alex Killorn

The Tampa forward was born in Halifax, but moved away from the Maritimes when he was only three years old. But he still has many relatives who live in Nova Scotia, so there are more Lightning fans in this area than you might think. 

Killorn has been a steady performer in the playoffs for Tampa, picking up nine points in 10 games.

Brad Marchand

The Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia, star has been battling an injury at the 2016 IIHF World Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia but Brad Marchand is still producing offence for the unbeaten Canadian team.

Marchand is coming off a career best season with Boston.

Even though the Bruins failed to make the playoffs, Marchand was arguably their top player.

He's got a lot to prove at the Worlds. If he plays well, he could be named to Canada's roster for this fall's World Cup of Hockey.

Marchand and Montreal's Brendan Gallagher have been making headlines by becoming close friends during their short stint together in Russia.

Both are among the most hated players in the league and are at their best when they get under the skin of their opponents.

Timo Meier

Timo Meier, who spent two and a half seasons with the Mooseheads before he was traded away this season, is also making waves in hockey.

The President's Cup champion scored one of four first-period goals Thursday night for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies as they polished off Shawinigan to win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title.

The San Jose first-round draft pick out of Switzerland had a good second half for the Huskies and will be counted on to put the puck in the net at the upcoming Mastercard Memorial Cup tournament in Red Deer, Alta.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across Nova Scotia for 30 years.

now