Tonight, we have an Eastern Conference clash you’re not going to want to miss. So grab a cold one (soda/milk/water for those under 21), put the feet up, and let’s dig into what should be an excellent hockey game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.
Mentioned in my previous post, Tampa was a Bugatti last season. They couldn’t be slowed down by Boston in the playoffs. While the Bruins put up a good fight in the playoffs, they failed to slow down an incredible Tampa Bay Lightning team.
This year? Tampa is even better. Look at the stats. Nikita Kucherov leads the Bolts with more points than the team has in total points. He leads the team with 101 points and the second closest point total comes in at 79 for Brayden Point. When Brayden Point came into the league, no one knew too much about him. Now, he’s one of the best centremen in the NHL.
Lead by captain Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t looked back since the start of the 2018-2019 season. They’re atop the league in points with no one really in the rear view mirror.
Plus, the Lightning have a stocked farm system. Cal Foote, Mitchell Stephens, Taylor Raddysh, Alex Barre-Boulet, Boris Katchouk, Alexander Volkov are just a few of the talented prospects that are in the Lightning’s system. While it’s too early to tell how they’ll be at the NHL level, the Lightning will likely see a lot of their prospects flourish when they are called up.
Defense & Goaltending
There is no question that the Lightning have a dominant forward group. They can flat-out play. But, In order for good offense, teams need solid blue-liners. Defensemen Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Mikhail Sergachev are leading the club. All three defensemen have a corsi-for percentage better than 49%.
Andrei Vasilevskiy. All jokes aside. Need no recognition. He’s been the best in the NHL since night one. Backup Louis Dominque has been excellent as well. He’s played 23 games thus far with a record of 19-4. Good teams have outstanding goaltending and that’s exactly what the Bolts have in their 1-2 tandem. They have a very impressive lineup from the crease out and there’s no secret as to why they’ve been the best all season.
Shipping Up To Boston
Tampa travels to Boston tomorrow night, to play a red hot Boston Bruins team. Boston, coming off a recent win over the San Jose sharks looks to extend a great run over the Tampa on Thursday. While the Bruins still don’t have David Pastrnak in the lineup, they do have plenty of threats.
One of the biggest threats is Brad Marchand. He’s having a great season. In 62 games played, he’s tallied 25 goals and 49 assists. In addition, Marchand averages 0.91 Goals/60 and 1.82 Total Assists/60. While he’s scoring at a lesser rate this season, his play-making has improved. Last season, Marchand averaged 1.67 Total Assists/60. The year before he averaged 1.36 Total Assists/60. It’s safe to say that the Halifax, Nova Scotia native has improved significantly over the past couple of seasons.
Plus, he’s coming off an unbelievable night against the Sharks. Even though he played only 16 minutes, he was able to get onto the score sheet several times. He scored a goal and tallied two assists in 22 shifts.
All Eyes On the Bolts/B’s Matchup
Tonight, the entire hockey world will be watching as the game. The game will be televised on NBCSN. It’ll be a thrilling game. Unfortunately, the last times these two clubs played, the Bruins took a 3-2 beating. But, this time around the Bruins are hungry for a win. I have no doubt that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has his boys amped up for tonight as they could certainly use a win to get closer in the standings.
stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com, naturalstattrick.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals