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(Paul Beaty)
(Paul Beaty)

A closer look at the NHL's final four: Depth charts Add to ...

And we're down to only four.

I'll have a more on the NHL's conference finals, including a prediction, later this afternoon, but first, here's a breakdown of the lineups all four teams will be using in these series. These are at even strength and based in large part on their most recent games.

The lines and defence pairings I have in italics are used as the defensive "shutdown" group, which often play against other team's top lines:

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Boston Bruins

Lucic - Krejci - Horton Marchand - Kelly - Recchi Ryder - Peverley - Seguin Thornton - Campbell - Paille

Chara - Seidenberg Boychuk - Ference Kaberle - McQuaid

Thomas

The biggest shift for the Bruins will be due to the absence of second-line centre Patrice Bergeron, who is out with a concussion and expected to be replaced by Kelly. Tyler Seguin, who has yet to play in the postseason, draws into the lineup to take Kelly's spot.

The other thing worth noting is that they lean pretty heavily on their top five defencemen, meaning whoever's in the six spot likely won't play that much and Tomas Kaberle will get shifted with different partners.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos/Purcell - Lecavalier - St. Louis Bergenheim - Moore - Downie Malone/B. Jones - Thompson - Hall

Brewer - Ohlund Clark - Hedman R. Jones/Bergeron - Lundin

Roloson

Guy Boucher likes to use a bit of a line blender and not much of a fourth line so putting down set combinations can be difficult for this team. He leans heavily on his top four defencemen and top four forwards (the big three and Moore).

Simon Gagne could draw back into the lineup for Game 1 while Pavel Kubina, who would be paired with Brewer, should make an appearance at some point in the series.

Vancouver Canucks

Higgins - Kesler - Raymond D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows Torres - Lapierre - Hansen Glass - Hodgson - Tambellini

Hamhuis - Bieksa Ehrhoff/Salo - Edler Salo/Ehrhoff - Rome

Luongo

Vancouver's fourth line plays sparingly and even the third line hasn't had a lot of ice time in these playoffs, as they load up on the top five or six forwards. With Mikael Samuelsson out, these lines should be fairly set, although Tannger Glass takes some shifts on the third unit in place of Torres and coach Alain Vigneault has been shifting his second and third defence pairings around a little.

San Jose Sharks

Setoguchi - Thornton - Marleau Clowe - Couture - Heatley Mitchell - Pavelski - Wellwood Eager - Nichol - Ferriero

Boyle - Murray Demers - Vlasic Wallin - White

Niemi

More than any other team left in the playoffs, the Sharks have stuck with their combinations, so barring injury, this should be the group you see in Vancouver for Game 1 on Sunday. Their biggest strength is down the middle, as Thornton, Couture and Pavelski play 19-plus minutes a game, and they roll through those three defence pairings pretty regularly.

The fourth liners have been getting only roughly five minutes a game, but everyone else plays quite a bit on this team.

 

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