Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Lightning
Bruins-Lightning day is finally upon us. At the beginning of this season, who would’ve thought facing the top team in the Atlantic Division would be something Boston fans are actually looking forward to?
Somehow, through all the injuries, the Bruins have clawed their way up to second in the Atlantic. This all comes to a head with key players like Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug returning from injury. Not only did the B’s reach second, but just one point behind Tampa Bay, they’ll fight for first place in the Atlantic — and Eastern Conference — Thursday at TD Garden.
Bruins fans: are you heading over to TD Garden for the huge Bruins-Lightning tilt and in need of affordable parking? Then head over Constitution Wharf (1 Constitution Rd.) — a short walk to and from the Garden — and avoid the traffic and construction on Causeway St. Mention Bruins Daily at the entrance for a prepaid rate of $12 — $3 less than the usual game night price!
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 47-17-11 (105 points), Lightning 51-21-4 (106 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Ryan Donato-David Krejci-Brian Gionta
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Noel Acciari-Tommy Wingels
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Tommy Cross-Kevan Miller
Nick Holden-Adam McQuaid
Lightning projected lines
J.T. Miller-Steven Stamkos-Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde-Brayden Point-Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn-Anthony Cirelli-Ondrej Palat
Chris Kunitz-Cedric Paquette-Cory Conacher
Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn-Mikhail Sergachev
– You know the major storyline here. Get two points — in regulation or overtime — and the Bruins take the No. 1 spot in the Atlantic Division.
– Earning those two points will be tough against Vezina contender Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos (if he plays), J.T. Miller and Brayden Point. The good news is Vasilevskiy has been struggling in net recently — but even his struggles are another goaltender’s dreams. He currently has a .921 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA. The Lightning have dropped their last two (Devils 2-1, Coyotes 4-1) and Vasilevskiy is .899 in his last five games.
– Both teams are at least somewhat banged up. Rick Nash, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and Charlie McAvoy are still out for the Bruins. The B’s will have at least one reinforcement as David Backes returns, while Matt Grzelcyk is a game-time decision. Stamkos is apparently nursing a “nagging” injury and is day-to-day. Victor Hedman and Adam Erne exited in the loss to the Coyotes and Ryan Callahan is out. Are you still there? Basically, neither team can use injury as an excuse for a loss, but it’s not like Bruce Cassidy would do that anyway.
– Even with some key players out, this will be one of the leagues best offenses vs. one of the best defenses. The return of Bergeron is obviously huge for the potent Bruins’ first line in containing the Bolts top trio of Kucherov (38 G, 58 A, 96P), Stamkos (27, 59, 86), and Miller (20, 33, 53). The Bruins have a 2-0 lead on the season series, and they have that lead because they were able to contain Tampa Bay’s first line. It might be as simple as that for the series sweep tonight.