Just the Facts:
The Time: 7pm EST
The Place: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Place to Watch: NESN, NHLN, SportsNet 1, TVAS
Place to Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub
Opposing SBNation Blog: Raw Charge
Know Your Enemy:
- Steven Stamkos is once again back from the dead, as he is the leading goalscorer and point-getter for the Lightning with 32 goals and 79 points in 69 games. As a third liner. The Lightning!
- Brayden Point is also once again a nightmare to play against, but their real ace in the hole is the Philip Danault of the year: A center so defensive any offensive gains are but blips in the night sky against the pillar of defensive impact that Anthony Cirelli has. From a pure defense perspective among centers, it goes Bergeron and then Cirelli. That’s how good a year he’s having.
- Victor Hedman once again remains one of the best defensemen in the NHL not named McAvoy or Makar. He’s got 67 points in 70 games as one of two players on the Lightning to probably finish out the season at a full 82. Utter mutant.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy is once again a solid goalie, though not the world beater of year’s past. He’s got a .916 in 55 starts.
- The Lightning! Your idea of unfair is a law, and laws mean nothing in FLORIDA BABY, YEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW-
So the Lightning, juggernaut and playoff Moby Dick of this iteration of the Boston Bruins, are currently going through what passes for hard times for them: 4-5-1 in their last ten, has lost their last two games in a row, and now roll into tonight’s contest with both sides staring at 93 points and a goal differential separated by two. The Bruins have shown this year that they absolutely can get ragdolled in the most critical moments of the game in a lot of the same ways the Lightning tend to get them (attention to detail at the point most specifically), and the Bruins have been able to also sewer any attempt the Lightning have of being competitive against them by dropping an avalanche of shots, chances and possession time on top of their heads.
That was a few weeks ago, however. That ain’t now. Because the Bruins are beat to shit.
While losing Trent Frederic kinda sucks for the chemistry of the third/fourth line as he’s started to pick up steam as a solid defensive and physical presence, no loss has had a clear domino effect on the finishing ability of the Bruins like David Pastrnak. The team leader in goals, power play or otherwise, going down is going to be a major kick in the nards, but losing recently acquired Hampus Lindholm on Tuesday to hopefully something day-to-day is a painful prospect, as what Lindholm provided only highlighted what the players before him lacked: A level of attention to detail in not just retrieving the puck in their own end but also leaving the zone with it or getting it to someone who could. And that beat to hell team now rolls up against a team missing...
...Ryan McDonagh. Cool.
But don’t despair, the Lightning now are as vulnerable as they’ve been all season, and the Bruins absolutely can handle these guys. Their last meeting showed plenty of promise, and even if it is hard, they can still replicate this. They will just have to work their tails off to do it, with or without Freddy, Lindholm, and Pasta.
Can the B’s get over the Lightning once again? Or will we be finally staring down the barrel of Washington with sour expressions on Sunday evening? Tune in, and find out!