Oct 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center Gregory Campbell (11) battles with Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula (51) for control of the puck during the first period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins

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Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning continues their road trip as they roll into the TD Garden to go one-on-one with the Boston Bruins. Here is a closer look at the battle between these two Atlantic Division rivals.

In the first two meetings between the Bolts and the Bruins, the Bruins have had the Lightning’s number.

The first matchup between these two teams was during the season opener when the Lightning headed into Boston and left with a 3-1 loss.

On October 9th, they would be the ones on the road as they came a knocking at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Unfortunately, this time they would leave the Bolts with a 5-0 shutout in their own home.

However, there are a lot of things that have changed in between now and then. The most obvious of which is the absolutely stellar performances being put on by Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop is 11-2 in his 13 appearances so far this season. Ironically enough, one of those two losses came at the hands of the Bruins. Heading into this matchup with the Bruins, Bishop has won 4 in a row. Momentum is definitely on Bishop’s side, but we mustn’t forget that Tuukka Rask is no slouch.

Another thing that has changed between encounters with the Bruins is the Bolts offense has found their groove. Steven Stamkos is tied for first in the NHL in both points and goals. In goals, he is tied with St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen at 14 and in points with Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at 23.

Stamkos has scored a goal in the last 6 games. Hopefully, Stamkos can keep that trend going against Boston.

While the record between these two Atlantic Division teams would certainly give the advantage on today’s game to the Bruins, the numbers are not so confident.

Bolts Bruins
Goals Per Game 3.25 2.75
Goals Against Per Game 2.44 1.81
Shots on Goal Per Game 27.06 30.6
Penalty Minutes Per Game 13.75 13.19
Power Play Goals 12 9
Power Play Percentage 19.7% 19.1%
Penalty Kill Percentage 85.2% 84%

 

While the advantages are not great, gaping holes, they are indeed advantages. The one thing the Bolts do have that is a greater differential is on the power play.

The Bolts are going to need to find a way to stay out of the penalty box. As most of you know, up until lately, the Bolts have spent way too much time in the penalty box for unnecessary penalties. This has cost them more goals than I would like to remember.

When they have an opportunity on the power play, they need to capitalize. This could give them an early advantage on a team who is known to take things to the limit.

Out in front in points for the Bruins is center David Krejci with 15 points; however, the leader in goals is left wing Milan Lucic with 7.

The Bruins have won their last two, the last one being against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. The Bolts have win their last 4 in a row with their last win being Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

This is going to be a very intense, fast paced game. Neither side is going to relent in this situation. The shots are going to be flying at both nets, and both goaltenders are going to need to be on top of their game.

This is going to be particularly difficult for Bishop, who is staring down the possibility of playing a back-to-back tonight against the Bruins, and tomorrow night against the Canadiens; both divisional matchups and important games for the Bolts.

The puck drops at an early 1:00 p.m. start time. Need to know where you can catch all of the action? You can get all the information right here.

Do you think the Bolts will be able to capitalize on their momentum and get their first win over the Bruins this season? Do you think Bishop will be able to hold strong, while snipers like Stamkos and Martin St. Louis take the puck to the net? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.

 

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Tags: NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

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