Showdown in Florida; Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Showdown in Florida; Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

There’s a battle happening in Florida this week as the league’s top two teams face each other. Throughout this season the race to the top has the Boston Bruins holding top seed; however Tampa Bay has at times gotten within one game of grabbing first place.  In what’s expected to be a very chippy game, Boston will be facing the Lighting twice this week.

Tampa has surged to the top as they looked to gain control of the Division but with a recent four-game loss, the gap has widen a little bit in the Atlantic. They won this past Saturday against the Calgary Flames, 4-3. The Bruins have a seven-point lead over the Lightning and are 12-3-0 since the All-Star break:

“They are a great team. We have to expect a really good game from them and return the favor…it’s another two points, big two points up for grabs against a team that is right behind us so we want to take advantage of that."

Bruins Forward Charlie Coyle

Tonight will be the third meeting between the two teams and Tampa does have the upper hand; they won one in regulation and one in a shootout game against the Boston Bruins. Saturday’s game will the last of the season series. Much like Boston, the Lightning have added a few new faces to their lineup, which they’ll need as they play on without Captain Steven Stamkos. He will be out six to eight weeks due to surgery to repair a core muscle.

Boston Bruins
(Photo Credits: Amalie Arena)

LEADING THE WAY

Boston's top scorer also happens to lead the league with 47 goals and for David Pastrnak, last month was a good one; he had 10 goals in 14 games. He is second to Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (who has 102 points) with 91 points. The 23-year-old winger continues to notch multi-point games as he was recently named the NHL’s third star of the month for February. He also leads the league with power-play goals (19).

THE BOLTS

Tampa will be looking for their second consecutive win when they welcome Boston tonight at the Amalie Arena. Expect Andrei Vasilevskiy in net for the Lightning as he won four-straight games against the Bruins. Nikita Kucherov leads the team with points (80), assists (49) and in goals (31). Tampa is 41-19-5 while Boston is 41-13-12. The Lightning have won 14 of their last 15 games when facing opponents in the Atlantic Division.

*Brad Marchand will be a game-time decision as he is not feeling well. Below is the AM skating lineups:

AM SKATE:

DeBrusk - Bergeron - Pastrnak

Ritchie - Krejci - Kase

Bjork - Coyle - Wagner

Kuraly - Lindholm - Nordstrom

Chara - McAvoy

Krug - Carlo

Grzelcyk - Lauzon

Rask Halak

PROJECTED LINEUPS-BOSTON

Marchand (if well**) - Bergeron - Pastrnak

Ritchie - Krejci - Kase

DeBrusk/ Bjork - Coyle - Kuhlman

Kuraly - Lindholm - Wagner

Blidh - Nordstrom

Chara -  McAvoy

Krug - Carlo

Grzelcyk - Lauzon

Moore - Clifton

Rask

Halak

PROJECTED LINEUPS-TAMPA BAY

Palat - Point - Kucherov

Coleman - Cirelli - Killorn

Goodrow - Johnson - Gourde

Maroon - Stephens - Paquette

Hedman - Cernak

Sergachev - Shattenkirk

Coburn – Bogosian

Vasilevskiy

McElhinney

WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH: Tonight with puck drop at 7:30 PM; NBCSN

Featured image courtesy of Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Written by Liz Rizzo

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