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PREVIEW: Boston Bruins host last year’s President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning

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While Boston picked up the new season with similar energy to their playoff run, Tampa is still sorting out their systems.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts

When: Tonight, 7PM Eastern

Where: TD Garden - Boston, MA

How to follow: ESPN+, SUN, TVAS, NESN // Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: Raw Charge

Know your Enemy

  • 3-2-1; 4th in the Atlantic
  • Steven Stamkos, 4 goals
  • Mikhail Sergachev, 6 assists
  • Stamkos (again), 8 points
  • Goaltender Andrej Vasilevskiy sits at 2.53 GAA and .921 Sv% through five games.

Game Notes

  • This time last year (as in, two weeks in), Tampa was at 4-1, having blown out Columbus in the first few games and tallying wins against... Vancouver, Detroit, other Florida, and Carolina (who eventually was a solid team - but, at the time,... wasn’t). This time through, it’s been 1-1 vs. the Panthers, a win against Montreal, a barnburner against Toronto (in the Bolts’ favor), and a loss to Ottawa. THIS IS OBJECTIVELY NOT BETTER.
  • After the postseason snub, a hotter start would have been more welcome. But, would the Lightning fans have bought it? With this initial turmoil of ‘how do we hockey’ from the Lightning, will that bode better for their seemingly-eventual postseason? Eh, it’s still too early. Let’s revisit after a dozen games. Though, it is worth mentioning that Boston is in the net-positive for possession-related events +4, by the Corsi standard (which includes all shots, even if blocked, as a positive thing). Tampa is -45, by comparison; they also play more of a run-and-gun style whereas Boston is a much more stingy team. Remember, don’t treat Corsi +/- as the +/- of old... potentially a couple dozen of these events happen per game, so it’s a longer look at a team’s ability to maintain control of play. tl;dr: KNEAD MOAR DATA.
  • For the Bruins, 5-1 through six games, you have to wonder if the same concern should be expressed here. A hot start occasionally leads to overconfidence and a lull in December/January until the wheels either start spinning again or rattle off the cart entirely. It doesn’t feel like the latter, but it’s still wise to wait and see how the first several weeks play out before heart attacks or over-hoping.
  • If we’re looking at the matchup in more of a vacuum, Boston has the edge in possession-positive stats, though Tampa looks like they can score with more ease. Well, maybe not as easy as David Pastrnak, but... close?

NEVER FORGET

Tampa’s last win against Boston... and their last win of last season. BOOMROASTED.