The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning will renew their budding rivalry in the Eastern Conference semifinals with Game 1 set for Sunday at 8 PM ET on NBC.
Thanks to the top-seeded Philadelphia Flyers beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in Game 6 of their opening-round series on Friday night, the second-seeded Lightning will host the Bruins and the Flyers will host the fifth-seeded New York Islanders who beat the third-seeded Washington Capitals in five games with a 4-0 win Thursday night.
The Bruins and Lightning last met in the Stanley Cup playoffs in the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning won that series in five games and since then the Atlantic Division foes have built the hate up as witnessed by their last regular season game just prior to the NHL Pause.
The two teams met again in the Eastern Conference round-robin with the Lightning winning a spirited and see-saw affair 3-2. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy commented on that game and what was at the time, a potential matchup with the Lightning or the Islanders Friday afternoon.
“Well Tampa obviously I don’t believe, we’ve fared nearly as well as we have against the Islanders,” Cassidy said prior to the Flyers beating the Canadiens. “For whatever reason, I think the last two years we’ve played really well against the Islanders. They have a tight defensive system, so do we. We think we’re patient with it, we don’t push the envelope, give up odd-man rushes, get behind. I think they’re a really good team with the lead, as are we.
As for Tampa, was more recent, a round-robin game that could’ve went either way I thought, they scored late with about two minutes to go and we got ourselves back in that game. Right before the break, we had two really good games. We went up there, they beat us in our building, both physical, both started to develop some animosity in those games. I don’t want to be disrespectful but I mean just if you’re going on records Tampa is the better team, the higher seed has earned that, but that doesn’t mean they will be better than the Islanders right now.”
The Lightning took four of five games against the Bruins this season, including the aforementioned round-robin tilt. Four of those five games were decided by one goal, including a 2-1 win by the Bruins at Tampa Bay on March 3.
The ‘Perfection Line’ with David Pastrnak (3g-2a), Patrice Bergeron (2g-1a), and Brad Marchand (1g-4a) has combined for 13 points against the Lightning but David Krejci (3g, 3a), the Bruins leading scorer in the playoffs thus far, did not register a point in three games against the Bolts this season and in the round-robin.