Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Lightning
Bruce Cassidy will need more contributors and fewer passengers against the league’s best.
Just when the Bruins are able to get healthy bodies back, they still can’t fully escape the injury bug. That makes Wednesday’s contest against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning even tougher.
The good news is Brad Marchand (upper body), Ryan Spooner (undisclosed) and David Backes (colon surgery) are all deemed good to go against Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and the high-octane Lightning. The bad news? Both David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk are out, both due to upper body injuries.
Against a Bolts squad that leads the league in virtually ranked No. 1 or 2 in every statistically category, including power play percentage (first at 26.9) and goals per game (second at 3.69), the Bruins, with Tuukka Rask between the pipes tonight, are going to need to come out flying from the get-go – much like they didn’t do against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.
“I think their depth is pretty important to their success,” Torey Krug said about a deep-Lightning squad that includes the likes of Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestikov, just to name a few. “They have some lines that can do some damage, and obviously they have the top talent in the league right now. Those guys are leading the league in points and they’re always a threat as well. So there’s a lot of guys you need to be aware of, and I think it’s an important part of their team.”
The two guys that the Bruins need to be the most aware of are Stamkos and Kucherov, who rank 1-2 in the league in points with 36 and 35, respectively. Even if they hold the top line of Naemstikov, Stamkos and Kucherov in check, the Bolts depth can provide timely secondary scoring at any time.
A tall task for a Bruins squad that will be forced to go with a top-heavy lineup again with the top line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak.
Looking for affordable parking and a quick in and out for Bruins-Lightning this evening? Then park at Constitution Wharf (1 Constitution Rd.) to take advantage of their $15 rate, while avoiding traffic and construction outside TD Garden. Tell them Bruins Daily sent you!
Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 10-8-4 (24 points), Lightning 17-5-2 (36 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Noel Acciari
Matt Beleskey-Sean Kuraly-Tim Schaller
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grezlcyk-Kevan Miller
Lightning projected lines
Vladislav Namestnikov-Steven Stamkos-Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat-Brayden Point-Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-Andrej Sustr
Chris Kunitz-Cedric Paquette-Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman-Slater Koekkoek
Mikhail Sergachev-Anton Stralman
Dan Girardi-Braydon Coburn
– Until someone takes the reigns for good, the Bruins goaltending saga will continue. Tonight, the Rask task takes center stage versus a team he’s fared well against during his career. Rask earned his fourth career shutout over the Bolts in the last meeting back in April, a game where the Bruins clinched a playoff spot. The 2014 Vezina Winner didn’t fare too poorly in his first game back on Sunday against the Oilers, but the rest of the team didn’t have the same energy that they displayed for most of their four-game win streak. From Rask on out, the Bruins will need contributions from everyone tonight against the white-hot Lightning.
– With Krejci and DeBrusk out, Cassidy isn’t ruling out going with seven defensemen for the second time in three games. It worked the first time in Torey Krug’s return to the lineup against the Penguins on Wednesday as Cassidy kept both Matt Grzelcyk and Rob O’Gara in the lineup. O’Gara is down in Providence now so the seventh defenseman tonight – if Cassidy goes that route – would be Paul Postma, who’s been a healthy scratch the last three games. Postma would likely replace Matt Beleskey or Frank Vatrano if he’s in tonight. A tough game-time decision awaits Cassidy.