No love is lost between these two teams as the Boston Bruins get ready to face their division foe. This will no doubt be a brutally physical series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Over the past few seasons, the rivalry has been deep as both teams continue to fight for the top position in the league. And in the second round of the Bubble Playoffs, things will be even more amped up.
March 7th, 2020. Arena: TD Garden, Boston. The Lightning was looking to close the gap between themselves and the Bruins in the Atlantic Division. They defeated the B’s, snapping the Bruins’ four-game winning streak at the time. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves as the Lightning trailed Boston by 7 points in the standings. David Pastrnak scored his 48th goal of the game and Boston would’ve become the first team in the league with 100 points (if they had won). Tampa Bay may have won, but not without facing some knucks courtesy of the Bruins.
There was a total of 94 penalty minutes amongst the teams with Tampa Bay’s 14 penalties to Boston’s 12. The second period was littered with take-downs as the Lightning extended their series lead to 4-1. But that was a long time ago, pre-COVID. After a five-month hiatus and returning under different playing situations, will the bad blood return tonight? Fans will get their answers as the series determines a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.
‘It’s going to be a fun series. It’s going to be very tough and it’s going to be difficult to play but going through this you want to play good teams… it’s going to be a good matchup. I’m looking forward to the challenge…That’s what makes the Cup worth it because you’ve got to play teams like Tampa.”Bruins forward Brad Marchand
Coach Bruce Cassidy previously stated that playing against a heavier-bodied team would mean a change in the Boston Bruins lineup. There was talk about inserting Nick Ritchie as he would match up well against the Tampa Bay forwards. Expect a Ritchie-Coyle-Bjork third line for tonight’s tilt.
Despite not having Steven Stamkos in the lineup, the Lightning has some meat on their lines. Boston has its work cut out for them as they will need to overmatch their opponent. Tampa Bay boasts the likes of Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Barclay Goodrow. Goodrow had some real estate in the penalty box during the infamous game back in March.
THE OTHER TEAM
The Lightning aren’t too shabby when it comes to D-Corp, which is led by former Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman. With Stamkos out, Yanni Gourde stepped into the third line. The Lightning clinched the second seed after going 2-1 in round-robin games. During the restart, Tampa defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, which included a historic five-overtime win in Game One.
Brayden Point has led the team in points (10) and goals (5). Nikita Kucherov led the team with seven assists. Boston’s David Krejci has been having quite the post-season, becoming a highlight for the Bruins. He leads the team in points (9), goals (3) and assists (6). With Tuukka Rask out of the lineup, it’s all eyes on Jaroslav Halak. The 35-year-old Halak will be facing a team he hasn’t played against since 2017-18.
Mental preparation will be key in between the pipes as well as getting all the information they need about the opposing team. The Boston Bruins will need to continue to rally around Halak to limit the Lightning’s chances of sneaking through. With the Krejci line doing a lot of the pushing, the offense will need to fire on all cylinders. It will be a physical game and will obviously not need to rack up many penalty minutes.
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton
PROJECTED LINEUPS – TAMPA BAY
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman
Patrick Maroon – Mitchell Stephens – Cedric Paquette
Victor Hedman – Zach Bogosian
Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev – Kevin Shattenkirk
WHEN TO WATCH: Tonight with puck drop at 8:00 PM, Scotiabank Arena
WHERE TO WATCH: NBC
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Featured image Courtesy of: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald
Here’s an extended video of every fight the last time the two teams met during the regular season. Enjoy!