The Tampa Bay Lightning welcome the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night for a marquee matchup at Amalie Arena. The Lightning were able to get off a recent snide against the Calgary Flames. With a five-game losing streak on the line, the Lightning were able to fend off the Flames on Saturday in Tampa.
The Lightning got out to a 3-0 lead, but the Flames struck back to get into the game in the second period. That was as close as the Flames would get, though, as they fell by a goal, 4-3, at Amalie Arena. The Lightning have been without Steven Stamkos recently, his last appearance taking place on February 25 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stamkos is going under the knife to repair a core muscle injury. That will hold him out of the lineup for 6-8 weeks. It could have been worse, but it appears that Stamkos will be unavailable for the rest of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. The Lightning have more than enough offensive weapons on their roster to get by without Stamkos active, though losing a player of his calibre should hurt in the meantime. Fortunately for the Lightning, they won’t have to contend for a spot in the playoffs in March. However, the Lightning are in a fight with their opponent tonight for top honours in the Atlantic Division.
It might be a fight that the Lightning won’t be able to win. They head into Tuesday with a record of 41-19-5 and 87 points for a 7-point deficit in the division. The Bruins counter with an outstanding mark of 41-13-12 and 94 points on the year. If they stay on the course, Boston will win the Presidents’ Trophy and go into the playoffs with the No. 1 seed.
After what transpired last April in Tampa, the Lightning might not be too concerned with catching the Bruins. Perhaps there will be a little less pressure on the Lightning if they stay away. The Blackhawks in 2013 are the only team in the last decade to finish first in the standings and win the Stanley Cup. Detroit in 2008 was the most recent following the Blackhawks.
The Bruins off a clean game against the Islanders, as they had a perfect outing with a 4-0 win. The Islanders failed to find any offence, as Tuukka Rask recorded 25 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. Rask is going to be under more pressure around his net against a Lightning team that will likely generate more of a push in their defensive zone. The Lightning got just enough for a 3-2 win in their most recent meeting in December. Head below for our free Bruins vs. Lightning pick.
Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Betting Odds:
Bruins vs. Lightning Prediction:
This could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Final. If things go according to how the standings look, the Bruins and Lightning are both going to go deep in the playoffs. However, things usually don’t work out that way. In a league that has so much parity, there is bound to be an upset or two along the way. The Bruins don’t seem to have any holes in their game, but we said the same about the Lightning last season. Tampa didn’t win one game in the playoffs.
The Lightning might want to avoid the Presidents’ Trophy after what happened last season, but much worse, they don’t want to be in a series against the Bruins without home ice advantage. The Bruins don’t give up much room at TD Garden and sport a record of 22-3-9 in Boston. Having said that, the Lightning have beaten the Bruins everywhere in recent memory.
The Lightning are on a four-game winning streak against the Bruins heading into tonight, which includes two wins in Boston. In their last five meetings in Tampa, the Lightning are a perfect 5-0, dating back to April 2018. That bodes well for the Lightning, but they have to deal with a Bruins squad that has won 13 of their last 16 tilts in this meeting.
History is one their side and this one, though, and Rask hasn’t been anything special versus the Bolts in his career. He carries a 2.66 GAA and 0.902 save percentage in 30 games against the Lightning. Rask was cold before getting the shutout over the Islanders. He got pummeled for 6 goals against the Canucks, and then followed it up with another lacklustre effort with 4 goals allowed on 30 shots.
Rask will look to slow down a Lightning team who’ve notched 3.94 goals per game at home in Tampa. Overall, they’re 2nd in the NHL with 3.51 goals per game, only 0.1 goals behind the Maple Leafs. There isn’t another team that turns on the red light as much as the Lightning do when they’re at home, though.
Also note that they’ve potted an average of 4.5 goals per game in their last four games against the Bruins. That said, the Lightning have looked vulnerable in their defensive zone recently. They’ve allowed at least 3 goals in their previous seven games, which equates to 4.2 goals against per game. You can flip a coin on the winner here, but the OVER looks like a good bet.