The Tampa Bay Lightning makes their way back to the Amalie Arena for an intense Atlantic Division showdown against captain Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a spectacular showing in their latest road trip, defeating the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals 5-4 in overtime and coming from behind to calm the storm surge and defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 deep in the eye of the storm.
Regrettably, things came to a bit of a halt on Saturday night as the Bolts made their way to the Enterprise Center to take on the St. Louis Blues. Things got out of hand rather quickly as the Lightning went down three goals in the span of a little over a minute in the first period. The Bolts were able to gain some ground and get back into the game, but it would not be enough as the Blues defeated the Bolts 4-3.
Despite what most hockey fans would like to believe, every team has to lose one every now and then. The Tampa Bay Lightning has been on a tremendous ride this season and it would be absolutely silly to lose our minds over one loss, no matter how disappointing this loss may have been.
It is in the spirit of this notion we move forward to tonight’s action. The Lightning makes their way home to the Amalie Arena where they will take on one of their toughest challenges in the Atlantic Division, the Boston Bruins. The Bolts have split the season with the Bruins up to this point. The Lightning defeated the Bruins back on December 6; however, on February 28, it was all about the Bruins as they defeated the Bolts 4-1 in Boston.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, they will be heading into tonight’s contest against the Bruins without one of the hottest forwards on the roster. Lightning forward Yanni Gourde will be serving the second, and final game of his two-game suspension for an Illegal Check to the Head of Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal.
The good news here is the Bolts have tremendous depth in the organization right now so when one player becomes unavailable, there are plenty more players ready to step up and fill the gap. Depending on how the rest of the season plays out, the Bolts could potentially have three 40-goal scorers on their hands.
Lightning forward Brayden Point was the first player to reach this milestone this season. Point picked up number 40 on in the second period on Saturday night against the Blues. There are two players on the team coming in hot on Point’s goal numbers, captain Steven Stamkos (39) and forward Nikita Kucherov (37).
Speaking of coming in hot…
The Boston Bruins have been on quite a run themselves in the last week. The Bruins are currently riding a pretty decent win streak right now. The B’s come into tonight’s contest on a four-game win streak which included a 7-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. As much as it hurts our soul to say this, the Bruins are coming into tonight’s contest with momentum on their side.
The Bruins also have three scorers leading the way for their team. Leading the pack in the points department is forward Brad Marchand. Marchand has 32 goals and 60 assists for a total of 92 points. Leading the way for the Bruins in goals scored is forward David Pastrnak. Pastrnak has 33 goals and 37 assists for a total of 70 points.
Not far behind Pastrnak in the goals department is Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron has picked up 31 goals and 42 assists for a total of 73 points. Bergeron scored his 22nd goal of the season in the Bruins 4-1 victory over the Lightning back on February 28. He’ll be one to keep an eye on in tonight’s contest.
Three Keys to the Game
The first key to a victory in tonight’s game is going to be defense. The Lightning has been fairly good defensively this season, but with the season coming to a close and the Bolts having already secured their spot in the postseason, teams can sometimes become very complacent. This is an incredibly bad thing to do against a team like the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins are the kind of team who seeks out your weaknesses and does everything within their power to exploit them. It will be critical for the defense to be aggressive and consistently keep the Bruins on their toes and preferably out of the zone.
The second key to a Lightning victory over the Bruins is going to lie squarely in the hands of the offense. As the old saying goes, the best defense is a solid offense. If the other team doesn’t have control of the puck, it is going to be impossible for them to put it in the back of the net.
Also, this will allow the Lightning to control the pace of the game. While the Bruins are a brute force kind of team, the Bolts are incredibly fast. Their speed is definitely something they can use to their advantage against a team like the Bruins and will do well to keep momentum on their side.
One of the most important keys to a victory tonight will be physicality. They don’t call the Bruins the “big, bad, Bruins” for no reason. The B’s are a hard-hitting team who has little qualms about putting a player down in an effort to gain control of the puck.
The Lightning needs to be prepared to give it back to them just as hard as the Bruins give it to them. It’s time for the Lightning to take a page out of the book of one Daenerys Targaryen and give the Bruins no quarter. In the past, the Lightning has allowed the Bruins physicality to get in their heads and throw them off their game. It’s time to bring this to a steadfast end.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins are the only two teams in the Atlantic Division who have claimed their spot in the postseason. It’s entirely possible these two teams could meet again in the postseason and the best way to kick this off on the right foot is to take the season series.
The Bolts certainly have their work cut out for them tonight as they take on the Boston Bruins. As we mentioned previously, these two teams have very different play styles. The game may very well come down to which team is able to capitalize on their opportunities first. In other words, the Lightning needs to strike first and strike hard if they want to bring home another two points in this already record-setting season.
The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. here in the Bolts Nation. If there’s one thing we know for certain, it that tonight is going to be an interesting battle between these two teams. Will the Bolts be able to strike down the Bruins and kick off a new win streak heading into the final two weeks of the season? We’ll have to watch and find out!