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Boston Bruins Ready For Physical Battle, Rask Returns, Preview Vs. Lightning

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The Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 0-1-0 round-robin) look for their first victory in the Toronto bubble this afternoon as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, 1-0-0 round-robin). The division rivals met four times in the regular season, with the Bruins going 1-2-1 in those games. Their lone victory came March 3rd in Tampa Bay by a final of 2-1.

Of course, the most notable matchup between these teams came on March 7th. The Lightning won that game 5-3, but it is best remembered for a series of fights and a nasty atmosphere.

Puck drop is at 4:00 pm on NESN, NBCSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

A SHUFFLE AT FORWARD

Bruce Cassidy has seen enough. Through two games in Toronto, his team has managed just a pair of goals. On Tuesday, Cassidy confirmed a number of changes to his forward group ahead of today’s game. Nick Ritchie will make his summer debut, while Jack Studnicka comes out of the lineup and Jake DeBrusk goes to the third line.

“Ritchie goes in,” Cassidy told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s going to play with Krejci and probably Kuhlman on the right. We’re going to play Bjork, Coyle and DeBrusk. Now we may move those wingers around, in game, but that’s how we’re going to start. That’s how they practiced today.”

Studnicka, who played in each of the first two contests in Toronto, did not skate with the main group on Tuesday. He skated with the second group after practice, and will be a healthy scratch.

Ondrej Kase, who has yet to play this summer, did skate with the main group. He rotated in with Kuhlman on the second line, but isn’t ready for game action just yet.

“Kase is back skating with the group, but we’re not gonna play him tomorrow,” Cassidy continued. “He needs some more reps. We’ll target him for Sunday.”

DONNYBROOK PART 2?

Will today’s game between these high-powered rivals be as intense as the one in March? It’s not out of the question. Cassidy said on Tuesday that he is expecting things to be physical between the teams. He also expects it to bring out the best in his Boston Bruins.

“Certainly I saw how their game (Monday) went. Very physical, very spirited with Washington,” Cassidy said. “They’re developing a rivalry. Obviously, with us and Tampa, I expect a lot of the same tomorrow. It’s going to be physical, competitive. Again, we’re trying to build our game every time out, we’re gonna need to be if we’re going to beat Tampa, so looking forward to it. I think the guys are too.

“Tomorrow should be a great test for us, bring out the best in us.”

A NEW LOOK

It would be easy to forget that the Lightning were extremely active at the trade deadline. The club acquired forwards Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, and signed defenseman Zach Bogosian. Coleman and Goodrow in particular has settled in on the Lightning’s third line with Yanni Gourde.

“You look at trades and you say do these guys help your team? Do they make you better? And they make us better. They make us deeper. They make us stronger,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “I don’t know if everything should be judged on how many points or how many goals you get but do they help you win hockey games, and those guys help us win hockey games.”

Cooper believes that added depth could help make a difference for a Tampa Bay team that was swept in the First Round last April.

“You look at Washington’s, the (Lars) Eller line with (Carl) Hagelin and (Ilya) Kovalchuk was there last night, it’s a pretty darn good third line,” Cooper continued. “I think we matched the Gourdo-Goodie-Coleman line against them, and they went toe-for-toe and it’s a hard thing to do against those guys.”

BOSTON BRUINS LINES

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Jake DeBrusk
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon

Tuukka Rask

Boston Bruins lines, as always, are subject to change. Rask will start, as Cassidy confirmed on Tuesday. Studnicka, as mentioned, will be the most notable healthy scratch. Par Lindholm, John Moore and Connor Clifton are the other notables that will join him.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LINES

Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman
Patrick Maroon – Mitchell Stephens – Cedric Paquette

Victor Hedman – Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev – Kevin Shattenkirk

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Lightning lines are subject to change. Vasilevskiy will start both of Tampa Bay’s remaining round-robin games, but Cooper confirmed that backup Curtis McElhinney will play at least part of one of the two games. Cooper added he hasn’t decided which game yet.

Steven Stamkos will not be available this afternoon. The star forward did skate on Tuesday, but wasn’t on a line. He missed Saturday and Sunday’s practices, and did not play on Monday afternoon.

Alex is a 2016 graduate of Springfield College who is currently a writer with Boston Hockey Now and The Oilers Rig. Outside of writing, you can find Alex in rinks around New England as the Play-by-Play voice of the USPHL’s Boston Junior Bruins. In addition, he does broadcasting work for Northeastern University, Holy Cross And UMass-Lowell. Reach him on Twitter: @Alex_Thomas14

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Carol Ann Bailey

Let’s go Boston let’s go

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