The Tampa Bay Lightning is going to have a tough game in front of them. When they take the ice tonight, they will come face-to-face with Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins. Let’s take a look at what we can expect to see from tonight’s game.
Anyone who says that the Boston Bruins have not had our number all season long clearly has not been watching the games.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the Lightning have had a complete breakdown when it comes to facing down tough opponents, it simply means that above all other teams, the Bruins have found a way to capitalize on the loopholes in our game.
This is something that we must put to an end tonight.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand fully where the breakdown in the game at the TD Garden on November 11th happened and why it turned out the way it did. Am I making excuses for the team? Certainly not, but I can at least comprehend where the breakdown came from.
Tonight, we have got to put all of this behind us and come at the Bruins with everything we have. We are going to have to play a physical game, as you know this is exactly what they will do to us, and we are going to have to pepper the net with shots.
While in my Lightning blue heart I will always consider Ben Bishop to be the best goalie in the NHL, there is no denying that Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is right up there with him. After watching Rask dismantle offenses all season long, there is only one way that I have discovered to break down his wall, and that is to pepper him with shots.
However, let’s be honest, that is the most sure fire way to break down any goaltender’s defenses.
When it comes to the numbers, the Bruins have a slight advantage over the Bolts; however, there is one key point of contention that could prove to be an issue for the Bolts. Let’s take a look.
|Goals Per Game|| |
|Goals Against Per Game|| |
|Shots on Goal Per Game|| |
|Penalty Minutes Per Game|| |
|Power Play Goals|| |
|Power Play Percentage|| |
|Penalty Kill Percentage|| |
While the Bolts seemingly can go toe-to-toe with the Bruins in most of the stats, the one place that the Bolts are going to have to be wary of is while they are on the PK. The Lightning’s Power Play has seemingly found itself in the depths of despair as of late, whereas the Bruins have almost a 4% difference over the Bolts.
As most of you already know by now, the Lightning has this nasty habit of falling prey to unnecessary penalties, and if they continue that trend today, they could find themselves in a very precarious position.
When it comes to points, it is really center David Krejci who is holding down the fort for the Bruins. So far this season he has found himself with 16 goals and 39 assists for a total of 55 points to accompany his plus-27 rating. However, when it comes to goal scoring, that honor goes to left wing Brad Marchand, who has 21 goals and 18 assists for a total of 39 points to accompany a plus-23 rating.
Now, on the other side of the ice, we have center Valtteri Filppula that is holding it down for the Lightning. So far this season, he has 20 goals and 21 assists for a total of 41 points. When it comes to assists, it is defenseman Victor Hedman leading the charge. He has 11 goals and 30 assists for a total of 41 points to accompany his plus-4 rating.
When it comes to the battle of the goaltenders, this is going to be one for the ages.
As I said before, goaltender Tuukka Rask has been a force to be reckoned with this season. In the 46 games he has suited up for this season, he has gone 27-14-4 with a GAA of 2.13 and a Save Percentage of .928.
On the other side of the ice there is Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop who has been quite the brick wall himself. In the 48 games he has suited up for this season, he has gone 29-11-4 with a GAA of 2.07 and a Save Percentage of .931.
This is definitely going to be an epic battle at the Tampa Bay Times Forum tonight, but this is nothing the Bolts can’t handle. Even though they were not able to pull out a win in the game against Buffalo to start the home stand, they really did play a complete game. If they can add just a little more physicality to their game, I think they may very well have exactly what it takes to earn the two points they so desperately need tonight over a team that is sure to underestimate us.
What do you think are going to be the keys to tonight’s game? Does the Lightning have what it takes to overcome the Bruins’ physicality? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. EST tonight. For all the information you’ll need to make sure you don’t miss a minute of the action, click here to find out where you can catch the game.