Goalies lead the killer B's; Bruins vs. Lightning preview

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: Versus (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Stanley Cup of Chowder

As a quirk of the NHL schedule, the Boston Bruins (having started their season in Europe) have been playing catch-up with games-played for the past several weeks. They currently have played 3 to 4 games less than most Eastern Conference opponents.

24 points in 18 games... Good for a tie for fourth in the conference with the likes of the Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins. But with those games yet to be played, it gives them a chance to catch up with conference-leading Washington (30 points in 21 games).

18 games and 24 points, it reflects how effective they are playing... That and how impressive Tim Thomas has been in net for the B's.

2010 - Tim Thomas 13 763 10 1 19 1.49 414 395 .954 4


Let me be honest, while it's nice the Lightning are playing three of their next four games at home during the holiday week, it absolutely sucks that we're facing the likes of Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers), and probably Tomas Vokoun (Florida Panthers) to end the week.

Thomas' stats line should do most (if not all) the talking about the Bruins right now. Less than a goal and a half a game? Incredible. Thomas is facing 32 shots-against (on average) a night, so it's not like this is coming without opponents really testing him in net.

And if the Lightning get "lucky" and fact Tuukka Rask tonight instead of Thomas? Don't let his 1-4-1 record fool you. Tuukka's stat line is solid -- but the bounces, in the end, have not gone his way.

2010 - Tuukka Rask 6 322 1 4 12 2.24 196 184 .939 1

That's just as much of a monster stat line as Thomas'.

Boston is 12th in the NHL on the power play, converting 17.6% of their opportunities. The Lightning hold at 3rd in the league with a 24.4% conversion rate with the man-advantage. Ont he defensive side of things, it's no surprise that Boston is ranked 2nd in the league with an 89.9% kill rate. The Lightning are only nine-tenths of a percentage point behind the B's, killing off 89 % of opponents power-play opportunities.

There were hints that Simon Gagne could return for the Lightning on Saturday. That fell through... And led to skepticism that he would be available for tonight's matchup. Still, it's a piece of news to watch through the day (Gagne's activation from IR), especially with Johan Harju and Michael Vernace sent back to Norfolk yesterday.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

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