By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
After two consecutive wins over the New Jersey Devils and the Anaheim Ducks, the Boston Bruins now look to start the hardest four-game stretch of the early season, starting things off against the Tampa Bay Lightning before a home-and-home match-up with the Toronto Maple Leafs and then the St. Louis Blues to wrap it all up. Boston is tied for third in the league standings with a 5-1-0 record and ten points.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have not had the best start to the new season, or at least not what they had hoped for coming off of their shocking first-round loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning hold a 3-2-1 record after the first five games, positioning them in the first wild-card spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
Tampa is coming off of a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday after losing to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. The defending Presidents Trophy winners are still a great team, but have struggled early on.
BOS: Tuukka Rask 3-0-0 1.33 GAA .957 SV% Last Game: 31 Saves in 3-0 win vs NJD
TBL: Andrei Vasilevskiy 3-1-0 2.53 GAA .921 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 3-1 win vs MTL
David Pastrnak. David Pastrnak. David Pastrnak. David Pastrnak. Why did I say his name four times? That’s how many goals the superstar forward scored against the Anaheim Ducks on, lighting the lamp four times en route to a 4-2 win over the Ducks in Boston. The performance led Pastrnak to becoming the first Bruin in the 2019-20 season to hit double-digits in points with 6-4-10 totals in six games so far. Everything is working for him right now and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
For many years now, Steven Stamkos has been the face of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Season after season, he is always near the top of team scoring and for that matter, league scoring. In 2019-20, nothing has changed, Stamkos currently leads the Lightning in points with 4-4-8 numbers in six games – tied with Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos has also been great on the face-off dot, winning 57.89% of the draws he takes. In 39 career games against Boston, Stamkos has 21-10-31 totals and will look to add to that tonight.
Even with the dominant performance from David Pastrnak against the Ducks, Brad Marchand was still as threatening. Anaheim managed to prevent Marchand from getting any shots on goal, yet he still finished the night with two assists – bringing his season total to 4-5-9 – second on the team in points. Marchand has found success against the Lightning throughout his career as well, scoring twelve goals and sixteen assists for 28 points in 33 games against Tampa.
In one of the biggest moves of the 2018 Trade Deadline, defenceman Ryan McDonagh was traded from the New York Rangers to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last season, the 30-year-old scored 9-37-46 totals in a full 82-game season with Tampa Bay, but only has one assist in the opening six games in 2019-2020. McDonagh only has two hits on the season and averages 21:52 time-on-ice. The one bright spot for him is his +5 rating in the plus/minus category, however, that statistic often gets a bad rap.
Today, Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk turns 23-years-old and it would be a perfect time for him to score his first goal of the new season. DeBrusk has one assist in six games, even though he has had opportunities to score in multiple games this season so far. With his center, David Krejci, out tonight with an upper-body injury, DeBrusk needs to step up offensively to bring some depth scoring to Boston against a stacked Lightning offence.
Charlie Coyle will move up in the lineup to be the second-line center for DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie, yet he himself only has one assist that was achieved in the opening game against the Dallas Stars back on October 3rd. The third-line of Heinen, Coyle and Ritchie had some chances in the last game against Anaheim, but failed to score. Tonight would be a good game for him to find his game that he had in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and get back on the score-sheet.
- G Tuukka Rask is playing in his 499th career NHL game
- F Patrice Bergeron is four assists away (496) from 500 career NHL assists
- F Patrice Bergeron is one assist away (496) from passing Rick Middleton (496) for sole-possession of 6th-most assists in Bruins history
Tampa Bay Lightning:
- F Steven Stamkos is three goals away (397) from 400 career NHL goals
Bruins vs Lightning Outlook:
The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have a rich history as Eastern Conference teams. Throughout the regular-season, the two franchises have played in 102 games against each other, with the Bruins having the better record of 64-28-9-1 – averaging 3.31 goals-for-per-game and 2.60 goals-against-per-game. In the playoffs, the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals come to mind when Boston defeated the Lightning in a razor-close Game 7 to advance to the Finals where the eventually won the Stanley Cup.
More recently, the Lightning dispatched of the Bruins in the 2018 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in only five games after the B’s won Game One. These two teams have been atop the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings for the better part of the past decade and each game has created an entertaining affair.
Tampa Bay won the season series of four games in 2018-19, defeating the Bruins three times, (3-2, 5-4, and 6-3) while the Bruins won once by a final score of 4-1 on February 28th. Boston scored a total of thirteen goals for and allowed fifteen against in the four games.
Regarding specialty teams, this could be a very entertaining hockey game. On the power-play, both teams are tied with a 31.3% success rate on the man-advantage, however, the Bruins have a better penalty-kill percentage (83.3%) compared to Tampa’s 73.9%. Either way, it will be interesting to see what team’s specialty teams out-performs the other. It may just be the difference in who wins.
Bruins Projected Lineup:
David Krejci is out for the Bruins tonight after playing minimal minutes against Anaheim on Monday. After the game, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy expressed hope that Krejci would be able to play tonight, but evidently has decided to keep the veteran center out of the lineup. Charlie Coyle moves up while Par Lindholm centers Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman on the third-line. The first and fourth lines remain the same as of right now.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.