Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Lightning
The Boston Bruins faced their stiffest test as of late Tuesday night in Ottawa and had no problem taking care of the red-hot Senators behind two goals from Ryan Spooner.
Spooner was playing in front of friends and family in his hometown and did not disappoint. The 23 year-old got Boston going with a power-play goal in the second period and saw his team never look back. Tuukka Rask celebrated his birthday in style with 39 saves in the 3-1 victory.
On Boston.com: With one month left, Bruins are finding ways to win
The Black and Gold have now won three in a row and they are 5-0-1 in their last six contests. Thursday night, they will welcome the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division – the Tampa Bay Lightning. Steven Stamkos and company trail the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers by one point for the top spot in the East with 14 games to play.
David Pastrnak netted two goals in the B’s victory and only meeting against the Lightning this season at TD Garden.
The Lightning come into TD Garden just as hot as the B’s, winning their last four contests and compiling a 7-3-0 record in their last 10 games.
[Looking to catch Stamkos and company tonight? Check out last minute prices for tonight’s Bruins-Lightning game on TicketMonster]
Here is your complete Bruins-Lightning preview:
Gametime: 7:00 PM
Records: Bruins 34-22-10 (78 points)/ Lightning 42-20-6 (90 points)
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: TD Garden
Bruins’ projected lines:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic-Ryan Spooner-David Pastrnak
Chris Kelly-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Max Talbot
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Lightning projected lines:
Alex Killorn-Steven Stamkos-Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette-Valtteri Filppula-Vladislav Namestnikov
Jonathan Drouin-Brian Boyle-Brenden Morrow
Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn-Jason Garrison
Mark Barberio-Andrej Sustr
Who to watch for Bruins: Ryan Spooner
Why was this player buried so long in Providence? Spooner is making Bruins fans forget about David Krejci with his scoring ability and speed.
The young centerman led the B’s to a 3-1 win Tuesday night in Ottawa, but has also recorded a point in six straight games including a game-winning overtime goal against the New Jersey Devils. In those six games, Spooner has recorded three goals and four assists and has really given Claude Julien’s team a boost.
Not only has Spooner given the B’s life, but he has given life to his left-winger Milan Lucic. The power forward has been skating hard and producing resulting in a great stretch for the Black and Gold.
Spooner has found his game because he is playing with confidence something that was lacking in prior stints with the big club. It’s safe to say that the youngster is finding his barrings with the big club.
Who to watch for Lightning: Steven Stamkos
It’s really tough to ignore the fact that you are lacing up against Stamkos. In his last meeting against the B’s, Stamkos netted two goals in the losing effort.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2008 ranks third in the NHL with 36 goals, while ranking 12th in points with 61. His 10 power-play goals are good for seventh and his 226 shots has him ranked ninth.
Stamkos is a pest no matter who he plays, but will pose more problems for a B’s blue line that is slower than usual. Stamkos’ speed and quick release will not only keep the defense focused, but Rask as well.
In his last five games, Stamkos has two goals and two assists. The Lightning won four of those games.
It’s no mystery, keep Stamkos to the outside and play extra physical with him so he cannot get that rocket of a shot off.
Game Day Edge: Keep peaking
The Black and Gold match up very well against the Lightning. With the team playing in Boston, they need to take advantage of the home crowd by getting off to a quick start.
Julien’s bunch is playing great hockey at this point of the season, and with 16 games remaining, it needs to stay that way if they want to keep climbing in the standings to avoid the Canadiens, their kryptonite.
The Lightning are a mediocre road team (16-14-5) compared to their ridiculous home record (26-6-1) and the B’s need to make them feel uncomfortable.
The Black and Gold are unbeaten in their last six contests and if they want to make it seven, they need to minimize their penalties, keep capitalizing on their power-plays and keep scoring first.