Game 17 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Boston Bruins

The Tampa Bay Lightning (12-4-0, 24 PTS) have, with a matinee showdown against the Boston Bruins (10-5-1, 21 PTS) on the docket, yet another chance to shed a proverbial monkey from its back. The Bolts, in delivering one of its more complete performances, if not its best showing altogether, so far this season by taking the play to  and seizing a compelling, and rare, victory over the Red Wings, eliminated one such monkey the other night. Enter the Bruins, who took care of a fellow divisional rival in the Maple Leafs on Saturday night and have won the last six contests, dating back to the 2011-2012 season, between the two clubs, are 7-2 in regular season matches against the Lightning since both teams squared off in the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 playoffs and 20-45-9 in the all-time series. In particular, wins in Beantown, have been hard for the Bolts to come by.

Today’s tilt also marks the third match between both teams already this season, the first of which was closely-contended but decided by a couple of Lightning gaffes while it had the man advantage and the second a mostly flat, short of a brief stretch, effort that ended as quite the stinker. Bottom line, the Lightning have scored just once in 120 minutes of action against the Bruins and the task isn’t going to be any easier today than it was in the previous bouts. Interestingly enough, Tampa Bay, to date, has come to closely resemble Boston in terms of methodology (i.e. taking care of the own-zone first) and results. Particularly when games are tight, both teams have managed, on the balance, do well in limiting the opponent’s pace and chances, as well as the attempts that get on net. And Lightning head coach Jon Cooper has ridden Ben Bishop in net much like Boston’s bench boss, Claude Julien, has relied on Tuuka Rask to serve as a workhorse between the pipes.

In the same vein as former commentary here, Stamkos, if he’s going to hit the score sheet, will have to overcome hitting the ice against, in defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Patrice Bergeron, two premier defenders at their positions and if Tampa Bay is to get secondary scoring, it’s going to have to best Boston’s core battle-tested veterans, particularly the savvy depth forwards that tend to win back possession and grind out shifts in the offensive third, thus snuffing out potential or existing opposition surges. Of course, that presumes the team Bolts can, when opportunities arise or with a little bit of puck-luck, solve Rask.

Wins are always the ultimate goal and they should be taken any way they can be had but, ideally, you want to win through good process. The Lightning is a bit ahead of schedule, having won five of the first six games in the this ten-game segment, so it ought to be able to play loose as it tries to shed its recent past against the Bruins and put longstanding futility in road matches against this divisional rival to rest.

NOTES

Season Series

BOS LEADS 2-0
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Rosters

LIGHTNING BRUINS
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STATPACK

 

Team

TOI, POSSESSION & SCORING TOTALS
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POSSESSION & SCORING RATES
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POSSESSION, SCORING & SHOOTING PERCENTAGES
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Special Teams

POWER PLAY
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PENALTY KILL
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Goaltending

ON-ICE TOTALS
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ON-ICE RATES
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ON-ICE PERCENTAGES
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Scoring

LIGHTNING
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BRUINS
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Team stats cited from Extra Skater.

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