Here’s your Boston Hockey Now Boston Bruins Game Day Preview:
Boston Bruins (44-21-5, 93 pts) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (43-23-7, 93 pts)
TIME: 7:00 PM ET
TV: NESN, BSSUN, NHLN, TVAS
The Boston Bruins will try to bounce back from an ugly effort in a 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings this past Tuesday when they go head-to-head with the Lightning Friday night in a crucial Atlantic Division battle for both teams.
The Bruins and Lightning enter their last head-to-head meeting of the regular season tied in points but with the Bruins clinging onto the third slot in the division thanks to having more wins. The Boston Bruins, who have two games in hand on the Bolts, are 2-0-1 against the Lightning this season. In their last meeting, David Pastrnak scored with 4:10 remaining in regulation to complete a hat trick, and Bruins defeated the Lightning 3-2 at TD Garden on March 24.
Unfortunately, the Boston Bruins will be without Pastrnak for a second-straight game as he nurses an undisclosed injury he appeared to re-aggravate in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime win over the Blue Jackets Monday in Columbus. Pastrnak left that game in the second period and has not played since. Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm left the game early in Detroit Tuesday and after not skating for the past two days, he too will be out of the lineup, missing his first game as a Bruin since being acquired just prior to the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline.
Jeremy Swayman allowed four goals on 28 shots against the Red Wings Tuesday and has now just won once in his last three starts. Meanwhile, Linus Ullmark has won five straight starts, and has a 1.69 GAA and .931 save percentage over his last six appearances (he relieved Swayman in the third period of the 6-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 29). That has prompted Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy to give Ullmark the start in a huge game as far as playoff seeding goes.
What does this mean in terms of who will be the No. 1 goalie for the Boston Bruins once the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin?
“They’ve both played well for the most part. Linus probably has been a little more consistent than Jeremy of late…[Swayman’s] been pretty steady, little bit of a blip here, we’re gonna let him play through it. Hopefully he finds it again and we go right down to the wire with good choices in that regard,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game-day skate Friday.
“Thinking ahead to the playoffs, who would be the guy, we’re undecided right now. Could be both. Not sure yet.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to get the nod between the Lightning pipes tonight. The Vezina Trophy candidate is 35-16-4 with a 2.48 GAA and .912 save percentage.
The Bruins are 4-2-0 since beating the Lightning on March 24 and the Lightning are 4-2-1 since that loss to the Bruins.
Betting: The Bruins are +135 underdogs on the MONEY LINE and -185 (+1.5) on the PUCK LINE. The Lightning are -160 favorites on the MONEY LINE and +165 on the PUCK LINE. The OVER/UNDER is set at 6. You can take the OVER at even money and the UNDER at -120. If you like the Bruins to win in regulation, like I do, that’s where you can get some great value as the Bruins REG bet is at +195.
Prediction: Bruins 4 Lightning 2
Boston Bruins Notes
-With Pastrnak out again, Cassidy is giving rookie Marc McLaughlin a chance in his spot next to Erik Haula and Taylor Hall. The former Boston College star has 1 goal in his first two NHL games.
-Trent Frederic (upper-body) will return Friday and skate alongside his usual linemates Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith.
-With Lindholm out, Mike Reilly will move up to play alongside Charlie McAvoy and Connor Clifton comes back into the lineup and will play the right side on the third pairing with Derek Forbort.
Tampa Bay Lightning Notes
-Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (upper-body) has not played since leaving that game in Boston early on March 24.
-Since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the NHL Trade Deadline, 6-foot-3, 224-pound forward Nick Paul has recorded five points (1G, 4A) over his last four games . Paul is now skating on the second line alongside Lightning captain and superstar Steven Stamkos and Ross Colton.
Boston Bruins Lineup:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron– Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – Marc McLaughlin
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Nick Foligno – Tomas Nosek – Curtis Lazar
Mike Reilly – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Tampa Bay Lineup:
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Nick Paul – Steven Stamkos – Ross Colton
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Brandon Hagel
Pat Maroon – Pierre-Edouard Bellmare – Corey Perry
Victor Hedman – Jan Rutta
Mikhail Sergachev – Erik Cernak
Zach Bogosian – Cal Foote