Boston Bruins (49-17-12) at Tampa Bay Lightning (52-23-4)
Tuesday, April 3rd at 7:30 EST – NBCSN
The 2017-18 NHL season is coming to a close and the playoff race is getting tighter and tighter. In the west, the playoff race is so scrambled that it is likely no one in that side of the league will know where their team lands until the final whistle of the final game.
Instead let’s take a look at the other end of the playoff frenzy. The Lightning and Bruins have been battling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference for the better part of a month now and will meet for the final time this season on Tuesday.
With the Lightning currently sitting in second in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with 108 points after leading the conference for most of the season, Tampa Bay would love to steal a couple of points from the Bruins in order to retake the division and conference.
Keys to this game for the Bruins are getting the puck to their stars and neutralizing a potent Tampa Bay offense. As soon as they give room to players like Stamkos, Kucherov and Point, this could be a very high scoring game for the Lightning. Kucherov also has an extra sense of motivation due to the fact that he is three points away from 100 and that would be a pretty nice milestone to reach.
If the Bruins can take away the time and space of these offensive stars and focus on breaking out of their zone quickly to get the puck ahead to their own scorers, this will not only be an exciting game but a winning one for Boston.
For the Bolts, have faith in your defense and worry about getting pucks to the net. With Tuukka Rask’s incredible 2.28 goals against average, everything including the kitchen sink is going to need to be thrown at him.
There won’t be a lot of time to worry about getting your defense involved in the scoring game. Shoot the puck to the net and crash for rebounds. Great goaltending can often times fall victim to dirty goals and that may be just what the Lightning are going to have to do. With an addition like Ryan McDonagh to an already talented defense, there is not a lot of reason to be worried about a defensive breakdown.
For both teams this should be an offensively minded game as both are boast two of the best offensive lineups in the league. Predicion, Lightning take this one at home in Amalie Arena and improve their home record to 28-10-2, tie the Bruins for points at 110 each and continue on into their last two games of the season.