Lightning vs Bruins Game Preview

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With NHL play in series continuing into August, the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning will be suiting up for their second contest during the round-robin games before playing in the playoffs. The top four seeds in each conference will face off to determine the seeding for the playoffs. The Bruins and Lightning will be facing off against each other in the second game of the Eastern Conference seeding series. 

Bruins Year Review

The Bruins were the best team during the NHL’s shortened regular season. Boston finished a league-best 44-14-12 with a total of 100 points. The Bruins were one of the best offensive teams in the league during the shortened regular season finishing tied for 7th in the league with 227 goals.

To complement Boston’s excellent offensive their defensive is even better. The Bruins allowed the lowest number of goals during the shortened regular season. The Bruins only allowed 167 goals over the course of the 70 games shortened season.

Boston’s special teams are also top-notch as they convert 25.2% power plays into goals. This is good enough for second in the league. Their penalty kill is nothing to sniff at either, as the Bruins kill off 84.3% of their penalties. They rank third in the league and it will be difficult for the Lightning to break through. 

David Pastarnak and Sean Kuraly celebrate a goal against the Jets

Lightning Year Review

The Lightning had a very slow start to the 2019-20 season. Their record was 17-13-4 as of December 21. However, after a mediocre start, the Lightning was on fire for the rest of the season. They finished with a 43-21-6 record good enough for 92 points.

The Lightning are loaded with tons of offensive talent which paid off as the Lightning were the highest-scoring team in the entire league. The Lightning scored 243 goals during the regular season, which is six goals higher than the next closet team. Although the Lightning had an amazing offense the defensive was not quite as good.

The Lightning allowed 194 goals during the shortened regular season. The Lightning were ranked 10th in goals against thanks to their star-studded defensive core. Players such as Victor Hedman and Ryan Mcdonagh anchor the LIghtning defense. The Bruins will struggle to breakthrough and create goal-scoring chances against the strong defense of the Lightning.

The Lightning also possesses phenomenal special teams. The power-play units converted 23.1 percent of their power play opportunities. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov will be hard for the Bruins to contain and will likely cause lots of problems for them during the game. The penalty kill for the Lightning is also very good as the rank 14th in the league as they killed off 81.4 percent of their penalties. 

The Lightning celebrate a victory at home.

Season Series

The Bruins and Lightning matched up against each other four times during the regular season, and the Lightning won three out of the four contests. During the first game, the Lightning defeated the Bruins 4-3 in a shootout victory. During the second match up the Lightning continued their success over the Bruins by defeating them 3-2 in regulation. In the third game, the Bruins were finally able to defeat the Lightning in a  2-1 victory during their third tilt. The fourth game brought lots of goals and fights. The Lightning won the game 5-3 in regulation but the real story was the fighting. With numerous penalties and fights, there will be some bad blood that should boil over in the next match up. After a regular-season series that had been tightly contested and hard-fought, this matchup will be very interesting to watch. 

Bruins and Lightning players fighting each other during their third match up against each other.

Key Players in the Game

The Bruins have already had some bad luck with injuries during the round-robin games. During the Bruins tune-up game, Tuukka Rask suffered a mild concussion after a Columbus Blue Jackets players collided with Rask’s head. If Rask can not suit up for the team by game time then the Bruins will turn to Jaroslav Halak to replace his production. Halak is used to being in the bright lights and helping lead his team through the playoffs. Halak has been the starting goalie for the Montreal Canadiens and the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders during the Stanley Cup playoffs, so he will not be overwhelmed by the pressure from the playoffs.

For the skaters, Brad Marchand also left the tuneup game vs Columbus with an injury. Hopefully, Marchand will return for the game against the Lightning and he can continue to bother Tampa Bay just as he did in the last matchup. David Pastrnak will also be a very important player in the game. After co-winning the Maurice Richard trophy with 48 goals in 70 games, Pastrnak will look to light the lamp multiple times against Tampa Bay. 

Photo credit: Dinur Blum (@Rabbi_d) via Flickr

The Lightning have a high powered offense and will look to exploit the Bruins defense with their star forwards. The Lightning will look to play a dump and chase style and will try to use their excellent speed to beat the Bruins defensemen to the puck. Tampa Bay will use speedsters Brayden Point and Anothony Cirelli to race down the ice and track down the puck. In the offensive zone, Cirelli and Point will try to set up quality chances for their teammates. Once Cirelli and Point win the race to the puck they will look for the dynamic Nikita Kucherov to capitalize on the play. Kucherov, the 2018-19 MVP has a fantastic shot that the Lightning will try to take advantage of to get the upper hand in the offensive zone.

The Lightning also has one the best goaltenders in the league. Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Lightning goalie, is one of the best shutdown goalies in the league. Vasilevsky posted a 2.56 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage during his 52 games in the regular season.

Photo credit: Dinur Blum (@Rabbi_d) via Flickr

Previous Games

The Bruins and Lightning come into the contest with two totally different results in their previous games. The Lightning was able to defeat the Washington Capitals in their first round-robin game. The Lightning controlled play in the first period and lead 1-0 after the first period concluded. The second period did not go as planned because the Capitals scored two goals to make the score tied up at two going into the third period. The score stayed tied at two until the shoot out when the Lightning was able to prevail thanks to Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov‘s goals. For a more in-depth look into the game check out Gordon Munro’s game recap.

Lightning vs. Capitals: Projected lines, storylines, injuries
Mikhail Sergachev rushes the puck for Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin chasing him.

On the other hand, the Bruins struggled mightily against the Flyers. They were unable to create many good scoring chances for themselves despite outshooting Philadelphia. During the second and third periods, the Flyers largely controlled play, and this propelled the Flyers to a 4-1 victory in the contest. If you want to read more into the game check out Clancy Golden’s article on the Flyers Victory.

Carter Hart stops Jake Debrusk during their match up in the round robin tournament.

Overview of the game  

Hopefully, the Bruins are back to 100% healthy before the game. If this is the case then we will be treated to a very entertaining game. The real reason you clicked on this article is to know who will win. The Lighting are riding a hot start that will continue into the game against the Bruins. The Bruins need to fix some of the sloppy mistakes they made in their first game if they want against a team the caliber of the Lightning. The Lighting should win this game fairly easily in the 3-2 final score.

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Clancy Golden is one of the biggest hockey fans in the world. He loves writing and watching the beautiful sport of hockey.