3 regular season left before Boston heads into the NHL's second season. 3 games left to prove to the city of Boston that this team isn't the floundering mess they've shown the past 6 games or so. Tonight's game is a make-up game for Nemo. When these two teams were going to meet, this is what I wrote about Tampa:
I'll be honest with you guys, this game scares the piss out of me. Tampa comes in tonight with the best offense in the NHL, scoring 4.20 goals per game! That's a ridiculous number when you consider that the number two scoring offense, the Blackhawks (who are on fire) "only" score 3.60 goals per game.
The Lightning has scored four or more goals in six games this season, most of them coming in January, although they did throw an eight spot on the board against Winnipeg on February 1st. Lately it seems that their offense has tapered off, losing their last three games and scoring five goals in the process.
Funny how things can change in a little under two months. Now the Lightning, who were an offensive machine during that early run are still an offensive machine. Their goal scoring has dropped from 4.20 goals per game to now 3.13 per game, which is still good for third in the NHL. Per usual, the issue with the Tampa Lightning is their defense. They are bottom of the barrel in goals against per game, giving up 3.04 per game.
They know their goaltending is an issue, because they gave up Cory Conacher for Ben Bishop, which was surprising because Conacher is a good offensive chip. The thing is, Bishop hasn't been great with the Lightning. In 9 games played, Bishop is 3-4-1 with a 2.99 GAA and a SV% .917, all lower than his numbers in Ottawa when he was traded.
It could be because Ottawa is that good or because Tampa is that bad. Either way, both Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop aren't anything to about - but the Bruins have a habit of making subpar goalies look like Vezina candidates.
As usual, the two guys to watch out for are Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Stamkos career numbers versus Boston are scary. In 18 regular season games played he has 12 goals and 6 assists for 18 points but is a -7. This year Stamkos has 2 goals and 1 assist in 2 games versus the Bruins. St. Louis, while not as good career numbers (and a much larger sample size) has 15 goals, 19 assists and 34 points in 46 games.
If Boston can somehow shut these two guys down and limit a decent power play, they should come away with the win. Tampa has nothing to play for, literally, and is probably trying to tank it to get a higher pick. Not saying that this will be a cake walk for Boston, but everything is set up tonight for a win.
And a win is what Boston needs. The Bruins are fighting with Montreal for the 2nd spot in the Eastern Conference and the top spot int he Northeast Division. If both teams lose out, Montreal wins the division. Shit, Toronto still has a small chance at becoming the division champions. Winning is the only way they are going to win this division and potentially play Ottawa in the first round. Backing into the second seed by losing is not an option this year.
After the jump, the rest of the preview...