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Preview: Bruins begin their Florida swing with a visit to Tampa


Tampa Bay Lightning Vs. Boston Bruins At TD Garden Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 7:30 PM

Where: Amalie Arena - Tampa, FL

How to follow: NBCSN, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: Raw Charge

Know your enemy

  • 41-19-5, 87 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division
  • Goals: Nikita Kucherov, 31
  • Assists: Kucherov, 49
  • Points: Kucherov, 80
  • Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy, 33-12-3, 2.62 GAA, .914 save percentage

Game notes

  • Here we go! The Atlantic Division showdown we’ve all been waiting for! The Bruins are 0-1-1 against Tampa so far this season, losing in a shootout at home on Oct. 17 and in regulation on the road back on Dec. 12.
  • It’s interesting too, because the Bruins’ two losses to Tampa came back before the Bolts went on their late-2019-into-2020 tear. Still, hockey is weird, and a shootout loss and one-goal loss aren’t really causes for concern.
  • Tampa has been on a bit of a downward swing lately, losing four in a row before beating Calgary in their last game. However, they lost captain Steven Stamkos too, as he’s out for a couple of months with a core injury.
  • When looking at Tampa’s scoring leaders, I was a bit surprised to see Kucherov so far above the rest of his teammates. He’s definitely their best offensive talent, but I didn’t expect a 14-point gap between him and second-place Stamkos. Brayden Point has had a bit of a slowdown, even though he’s at a nearly point-per-game pace. That’s what happens when you score 92 points in 79 games the year before, I guess: expectations go up.
  • It’ll be interesting to see what Bruce Cassidy does in net tonight. He could continue to rotate and play Jaroslav Halak, but given that Tuukka Rask had shutout on Saturday, it might make sense to ride the hot hand.
  • It’s unclear if anything has officially changed with Chris Wagner’s health. He was reportedly at practice today, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be making the trip to Florida. Considering the Bruins have a glut of fourth-line players right now, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to rush him back.
  • At practice today, the Bruins had Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk splitting time at 3LW. Bjork was a healthy scratch on Saturday, so does this mean DeBrusk may be getting the healthy scratch treatment tonight? Probably not, as Cassidy indicated the other day that he expects to rotate Bjork and Karson Kuhlman at times down the stretch. Still, DeBrusk hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire lately, so...
  • The Bruins have entered a weirdly division-heavy portion of their schedule, with 5 of their next 6 games coming against divisional opponents. The B’s can do themselves plenty of favors by taking points away from Tampa, but can also really screw with the playoff race by beating Florida and Toronto.