I fucking hate these three day waiting periods between games. It's probably the closest thing to being water boarded that I will ever experience outside of a Bruins power play (although not lately!). The worst part about it is that there isn't shit to write about during this time off, except for that Lindy Ruff got fired 5 years to late which is kind of a shitty thing because now someone may actually realize the team is talented and coach them as such. Anywho, the Bruins are now in toasty Florida, where the mice are huge and the 4pm steak is $5 with tax to play the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Last time the Bruins "played" Tampa Bay, a snow storm opened it's anal cavity and dumped about 2 feet of snow on us causing the game to be postponed. Before that game, Tampa was on a virtual tear of NHL goaltending. They put up something like 6+ goals 6 times before their matchup with Boston, but has since cooled off - big time.
Since the February 10th postponed game, the Lightning are 2-2, losing to Washington and Montreal and beating Toronto and Florida. So they haven't defeated any good teams and got waxed against Washington, where they let up four goals.
In reality though, the Bruins defense is going to get tested tonight in a big way. Tampa comes into the game ranked number one in offense in the NHL, scoring almost four goals a game. While the Bruins defense is good, they're no longer statistically the best in the NHL. While being ranked 8th is nothing to scoff at, you have to look at how they've played over the past few games.
The last time the Bruins faced Tampa, the Lightning put a 12 spot on the board and Steven Stamkos went ham - but that was with Party Turco in net. I don't expect a 12 spot to ever grace a Bruins scoreboard again, but the possibility that Tampa can put in 5 or 6 goals is definitely there. While Rask has been good we can't forget his performance against Buffalo when Thomas Vanek was playing puppet master with the Bruins defense, can we? I know we place a lot of that game on a shitty defense - and rightfully so - but there's been so many times where Tuukka has had to been masterful to even keep Boston in a game (hello, Montreal).
One last thing that scares the piss out of me with regards to the Lightning? Their power play. While the Bruins penalty kill is amazing (and we're talking 94%, best in the NHL amazing) the team has a tendency to take idiotic penalties at the most crucial times. The third pairing of Ference/McQuaid seems to be the worst of the pairs. The pairing has 27 PIMs so far this season and McQuaid has 19 of them. For comparison, Chara is 2nd with 14 and then no defenseman breaks 10 (with Dougie Hamilton having 0 PIMs this season). Putting Tampa Bay on the power play could be suicide.
Tampa also has three players in the top 20 in total points so far this season in Stamkos (3rd), St. Louis (5th) and Lecavalier (20th). Again, nothing to sneeze at, especially when Vinny L is a second line center. Boston's highest ranking player in terms of total points in David Krejci at 68. Just something to think about. Tampa plays a wide open, offensive scheme and Guy Boucher loves to have his guys shooting the puck. Given that team speed also cripples this defense, it could be a long night.
After the jump, the rest of the preview...