Here’s your Boston Hockey Now Boston Bruins Game Day Preview:
Boston Bruins (39-19-5, 83 pts) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (39-17-6, 84 pts)
TIME: 7:05 PM ET
TV: NESN, BSSUN, TVAS, SNE, SNO
The Boston Bruins begin a five-game homestand against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at TD Garden.
With a win tonight, the Bruins would not only leapfrog the Lightning by a point in the standings but they would be tied for the fifth slot in the Eastern Conference playoff race with the idle New York Rangers (40-19-5, 85 pts). The also idle Toronto Maple Leafs (40-18-5, 85 pts), would hold onto the fourth slot because they have a game in hand on both the Bruins and Rangers.
The Boston Bruins come into this game riding a two-game win streak after beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime this past Monday and the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 last Friday. The Bruins went 3-1-0 on their recent four-game road trip. Boston is 7-2-1 since March 1 and 25-9-3 since Jan. 1 with a .716 winning percentage. Only the Florida Panthers (.726) and the Colorado Avalanche (.754) have a better winning percentage.
The Tampa Bay Lightning roll into town on a two-game skid. This will be the second game of a four-game road trip that sees Tampa Bay play four games in six days. The Bolts are 5-6 in the month of March and are 18-10-1 since Jan. 1.
The Boston Bruins are 1-0-1 against the Lightning this season after taking the last meeting between the two rivals 5-2 in Tampa Bay on Jan. 8. The teams will meet one more time in Tampa Bay on April 8.
Jeremy Swayman will start between the pipes for the Boston Bruins. Swayman bounced back from a loss to the Minnesota Wild and made 26 saves in the 3-2 overtime win over the Canadiens. Swayman is 18-8-3 with a 2.09 GAA and .925 save percentage.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start for the Lightning tonight. The 2019 Vezina Trophy winner is a Vezina Trophy candidate once again as he is tied with Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry in wins with 32. Vasilevskiy is 32-13-4 with a 2.38 GAA and .919 save percentage.
Betting: Some of the US sports books have this game as a pick-em now that it’s been confirmed that Patrice Bergeron won’t play for the Bruins. If you can still get the Lightning as an underdog and at plus money, we highly suggest jumping on it. This is a perfect situational spot for the Lightning who will want to snap out of their two-game skid and can catch the Bruins potentially lethargic and feeling a bit too good about themselves in their first game back home off a successful road trip.
Prediction: Lightning 3 Bruins 2 (OT)
Boston Bruins Notes
-As mentioned above, the Boston Bruins will be without center and captain Patrice Bergeron for a fourth straight game. After surgery for an infection on his arm recently, and then returning to practice on Wednesday, Bergeron was expected to play tonight but did not get the green light from the team medical staff.
-Newly acquired defenseman Hampus Lindholm will make his Bruins debut Thursday. Lindholm will be paired with Charlie McAvoy on the top defensive pairing.
“What a good-looking guy, man. He’s got it all. He’s like an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type figure,” Brad Marchand joked of his new teammate Thursday after the game-day skate. “But no, he’s a really good guy…we’re really excited to have him. Even just playing against him the little bit that we did this year, I didn’t enjoy it. Really looking forward to having him on the ice. Great player. From everything I’ve gathered off the ice, great. Great teammate. Great guy. So, he’s going to fit in very well with this team. Very happy to have him here for a long period for the next eight years. Just the depth that it adds to our group on our back end is awesome.”
-With Lindholm coming into the lineup, Derek Forbort, Connor Clifton and Mike Reilly will begin their platoon as the fifth/sixth/seventh defenseman for the Bruins. On Thursday, Clifton will be paired with Derek Forbort, while Reilly sits up top.
Tampa Bay Lightning Notes
-After he had 17 goals and 17 assists in 38 games last season, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is having a monster 2021-22 season. The 32-year-old future hall of famer has 37 goals and 39 assists in 61 games. Stamkos leads the Lightning in points and goals.
-Perennial Norris Trophy candidate Victor Hedman leads the Lightning in assists with 45 helpers and has 17 goals in 62 games.
-The Lightning is averaging 3.31 goals per game. They scored two goals on 29 shots in their last game, a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Boston Bruins Lines:
Brad Marchand – Jack Studnicka– Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Nick Foligno-Tomas Nosek-Curtis Lazar
Hampus Lindholm – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines:
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Brandon Hagel
Alex Killorn – Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov
Nick Paul – Anthony Cirelli – Ross Colton
Pat Maroon – Pierre-Edouard Bellmare – Corey Perry
Victor Hedman – Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh – Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev – Erik Cernak