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Preview: A road test awaits as the Bruins visit Tampa

An Atlantic showdown!

NHL: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 7 PM

Where: Amalie Arena - Tampa, FL

How to follow: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: Raw Charge

Know your enemy

  • 11-6-1, 23 PTS, third in the Atlantic Division
  • Nikita Kucherov: 10G-18A-28PTS; Steven Stamkos: 10G-10A-20PTS; Brayden Point: 6G-12A-18PTS
  • Andrei Vasilevskiy: 7-5-1, 2.84 GAA, .909 save percentage

Game notes

  • Much like a South Shore resident who has had enough of the snow, the Bruins are headed to Florida for a spell. Tonight’s game is the first of a brief two-game Sunshine State swing, with the B’s playing the Panthers in Sunrise on Wednesday night.
  • While the Bruins are humming, the Lightning are on a nice little run of their own. Tampa has won four games in a row, the latest a 3-2 OT win over Nashville on Saturday night.
  • This generation’s Tampa team reminds me of the prime Alex Ovechkin Capitals (though better) in that you know exactly what you’re going to get, night in and night out: points from Kucherov, Stamkos, and Point, elite defense from Victor Hedman, elite goaltending from Vasilevskiy.
  • Interestingly, Vasilevskiy has a worse record than backup Brian Elliott (4-1-0), even though Elliott has worse stats. Hockey is weird.
  • While it’s early, Tampa is surprisingly in the middle of the pack in terms of both offense and defense. The Bolts have the league’s tenth-most potent offense (3.39 GF/G) and tenth-stingiest defense (3.06 GA/G).
  • Tampa seemed to have the Bruins’ number for a while, but the Bruins have actually won the teams’ last three meetings: April 8 in Tampa, March 24 at the Garden, and January 8, also in Tampa.
  • On the Bruins’ side of things, there isn’t really much to report. I’d expect Linus Ullmark to start tonight after Jeremy Swayman returned on Saturday. Aside from some possible shuffling of the bottom defense pairs, the B’s don’t have a ton of lineup decisions to make. Why change what’s working?
  • I’m not complaining, but I’m surprised this game isn’t on national TV.

See ya tonight!