Game Day Preview: Bruins at Lightning
The Boston Bruins no longer decide their own fate after another loss on Thursday night—this time against the Florida Panthers, 4-2.
It was another lackluster effort for Boston even after taking a 1-0 lead on a Patrice Bergeron power-play goal. The Panthers answered right back nodding the score at 1-1 heading into the third period. The final frame wasn’t even a contest as the Panthers –eliminated from playoff contention — were playing like the more desperate team.
Tuukka Rask stopped 26 of 30 shots, but did not turn in his greatest of efforts, while Reilly Smith continued his dismal play finishing the night with a minus-2 and just one shot on net in almost 12 minutes of play.
On Boston.com: Bruins lose control of postseason fate
The Black and Gold will now travel to Tampa to face off against the Lightning on Saturday night. They need a lot of help from the Flyers (who host the Senators) and the Sabres (who host the Penguins) as they are on the outside looking in of a playoff spot.
In the B’s last meeting against the Lightning, Tampa took care of business. The result was a 5-3 loss for Boston, but the scoreboard did not reflect the poor play from the Black and Gold.
The Bolts hold the second spot in the Atlantic Division while winning two in a row and posting a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games. The B’s, on the other hand, have lost two in a row after winning their previous five.
Here is your complete Bruins-Lightning Preview:
Gametime: 7:30 PM
Records: Bruins 41-27-13 (95 points)/Lightning 49-24-8 (106 points)
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: Amalie Arena
Bruins’ projected lines:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic-Ryan Spooner-David Pastrnak
Chris Kelly-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Max Talbot-David Krejci-Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski-Zach Trotman
Lightning projected lines:
Jonathan Drouin-Steven Stamkos-Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov
Vladislav Namestnikov-Valtteri Filppula-Cedric Paquette
Brenden Morrow-Brian Boyle-J.T. Brown
Nikita Nesterov-Anton Stralman
Matt Carle-Slater Koekkoek
Mark Barberio-Luke Witkowski
Who to watch for Bruins: Chris Kelly
He is one of Julien’s favorite players because of his two-way play, but his lack of skill is hurting the B’s. Kelly has just seven goals this season but had some decent chances in enormous spots for this team at crucial times.
Kelly hasn’t lit the lamp in 26 games. His last goal was February 13th against the Vancouver Canucks. Over that same span, the 34-year-old forward has just two assists.
Kelly is a great penalty killer and can win some key face-offs, but his ability to do anything else has B’s fans’ wondering why he isn’t a healthy scratch on some nights. The reason is this team lacks depth and he is a better player than the few who are sitting.
It’s time for the B’s to reconfigure the latter part of their roster because if it stays the same, they’ll be in for similar results. But that’s another story for later.
Who to watch for Bolts: Tyler Johnson
Steven Stamkos’ talent is well known, but another player to take a look at is Johnson. The 24-year-old is having a great year totaling 72 points (29 goals, 43 assists) in 76 games while posting a plus-34 rating — good for third in the NHL.
Over his last two games, the young center has three goals and two assists including the game-winner in his most recent game over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Tampa is much like the Capitals — they have plenty of fire power. Johnson ranks second on his team in goals behind Stamkos but is tied for the team lead in points.
This game could get ugly with the way the B’s are playing over the last two games, and it may not even matter if the results of other games don’t go the way of the hometown team.
Game Day Edge: Show some fight
The Bruins’ playoff fate is out of their hands, but regardless of what happens, they need to play with desperation and hope for the best.
Thursday night in Florida wasn’t the greatest of efforts for the Black and Gold. It seemed all night the Panthers were playing with more of an edge.
It’s been a tough year for the B’s between injuries, lack of consistency and sometimes lack of effort. At times, players seemed unprepared and disengaged. That can’t be the case Saturday night.
The B’s took it on the chin all season long, the least they can do is play out their season like they are playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.