The NHL is set up with another exciting day of second round matchups on Monday night. Two games will be up on the board throughout August 31. One of the games will be between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. These two teams have met in an exciting series so far and I expect another good one on Monday night. The puck will drop at around 7:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Bruins finished out the regular season with a record of 44-14-12, which had them finish in first place of the Eastern Conference. Boston struggled in the round robin, which put them up against the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins knocked them off in five games, but are now in jeopardy of losing in five games. Boston will look to avoid elimination with a win on Monday night.
Tampa Bay earned a record of 43-21-6, which put them right behind Boston to end out the regular season. The Lightning had a strong round robin, which had them have a rematch with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round. Tampa Bay knocked them out in a solid five game series. The Lightning will now look to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in this one.
These two teams have met in a solid series so far, but Tampa Bay has gotten the better of the Bruins so far. Boston now finds themselves backed against the wall and will look to fight out of it a bit with a win in Game 5. If the Bruins can come out strong, they could stay alive, but look for the Lightning to pick up where they left off to try and move on.
Game 1 of this series was back on August 23. Victor Hedman scored two goals late, but it was not enough. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak both had a goal and an assist as the Bruins were able to jump out to a 1-0 series lead. Jaroslav Halak turned away 35 of the 37 shots he faced as Boston won Game 1 3-2.
The second game of this series was back on August 25. Brad Marchand had two goals, while David Pastrnak had two assists as Boston forced overtime. Blake Coleman had two goals for the Lightning as the game needed extra time. Ondrej Palat scored five minutes into overtime to give Tampa Bay a 4-3 win to tie up the series.
Game 3 of this series was on August 26. Brad Marchand kept up his good play as he scored in the second, but the Bruins did not stand a chance. Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and three assists. Alex Killorn had two goals and an assist, while Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev finished with a goal and an assist. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 23 of 24 shots as Tampa Bay won 7-1.
The most recent game of this series was on August 29. Ondrej Palat scored two goals to open up the scoring for the Lightning. Victor Hedman added a goal, while Nikita Kucherov had two assists. Jake Debrusk scored to avoid the Bruins getting shutout, but it was not enough. Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away 29 of 30 shots as the Lightning won 3-1.
The Bruins had a great special team unit throughout the regular season. Boston capitalized on 25.2 percent of their power play chances, while killing off 84.2 percent of their opponent’s power play opportunities. In the playoffs, the Bruins have scored on 22 percent of their power play attempts and have killed off 81.1 percent of the penalties against them.
Tampa Bay also had a strong season on special teams this season. The Lightning were able to score on 23.2 percent of the power plays for them and killed off an impressive 81.4 percent of opposing teams power plays. Since the playoffs started, Tampa Bay has tallied goals on 19.4 percent of their power play chances, while killing off 81.8 percent of the power plays against them.
These two teams have had strong special team units throughout the postseason. The Bruins have done slightly better with their power play in the playoffs, but the Lightning have been able to keep it in check. Tampa Bay will look to have a good game on the power play in Game 5 to try and finish off Boston. If the Bruins can clean up their five on five play though, it could give them an edge in this one.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start in net for the Bruins in Game 5 of this series. Halak put up a record of 18-6-6 through the regular season. He finished with a save percentage of .919 and a 2.39 GAA in the regular season. Halak has put up a .900 save percentage and a GAA of 2.94 through his eight playoff starts this postseason.
The Lightning will have Andrei Vasilevskiy get the nod in the crease on Monday night. Vasilevskiy finished out the regular season with a record of 35-14-3. He posted a .917 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA in those games. In the playoffs, Vasilevskiy has earned a save percentage of .927 and a GAA of 1.98 to help push Tampa Bay to one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
Both goalies had solid regular seasons, but Vasilevskiy gives the Lightning a nice edge in this series. Halak has done a good job stepping up for the missing Tuukka Rask, but has struggled a bit in this series. The Bruins will look to give him a little help in this one to stay alive in this series. If Boston can keep Tampa Bay’s scoring chances low, it will give them a good shot to force a Game 6.
The Lightning have dominated the last three games of this series to push Boston to the brink of elimination. I believe that the Bruins have a good chance to bounce back in Game 5 though to stay alive. Boston has had the better special teams’ unit, which could help them. If the Bruins can clean up their five on five play, I think they have a chance to force a Game 6.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -114 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 53.3 percent of the time. I believe that this line is right as it gives Tampa Bay an edge, without being too big. The Bruins were the best team during the regular season for a reason and I do not expect them to go without a fight.