Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara (USA Today Sports)
The Bruins, fresh off a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, now face an even tougher opponent in the East-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Bruins are at the 22nd place in the league, the Lightning have been near the top for quite some time. Trading places with St. Louis off and on, Tampa Bay has proven game in and game out that they are a force to be reckoned with this season.
A large part of the difference between teams is the differential in Goals For, and offensive production in general. The Lightning have the best Goals For per Game in the league at 3.74 Goals/game, outscoring the Bruins (2.73 GF/game) by an average of a whole goal a game. This is mainly due to the incredible play of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. They lead the league in points at 36 and 34. Kucherov has 17 goals, one behind Ovechkin for the lead, and Stamkos has the lead of assists at 26. They are some of the most creative players in the NHL right now.
Here are some of the highlights from one of their best games so far. The side to side passing accuracy of the Lightning is unlike anything I have seen before. Their vision opens up passing lanes that most people wouldn’t dare to think of passing it to that area. From what they have shown so far this season, they will be hard for any team to stop in the playoffs.
The Bruins are still in what seems to be an endless cycle of “Who’s The #1 Goalie?” after Rask’s loss to the Oilers. Now whether the blame falls on Rask’s play or the team’s play isn’t the question. The real issue is how can Rask gain confidence going into his next start, whenever that is, with all this criticism surrounding him? We have seen him after games still very happy and excited for a Khudobin win like all players should, but with the media cascading him with questions that he doesn’t have the answers to it seems as though he would be down on himself. But that is the complete opposite of what he’s doing. The locker room has no doubt that he is the #1 goalie, and that they need to play better. It’s just a matter of time until these things click.
The Bruins still have lots of games left to play, and after seeing that four-game burst of wins there is definitely potential for better play as a whole.
The Tampa Bay game is on Wednesday, Nov 29th, at 7:30 in Boston.
Sources: NHL.com, TSN.com, ESPN.com, mcubed.net