I think the best way to introduce tonight's game in Boston is to take you back to a post-game write-up I did on March 14th. Here is the (snipped for narrative sake) stuff I thought pertinent:
For Boston, yesterday might just serve as a panic-inducing wakeup call. While they don't have the liberty of making a trade for goaltending help, they do have enough time left in the regular season to mentally get past such an ugly loss and make adjustments to make sure games like that don't happen again this season or, more importantly, during the playoffs.
The lop-sided victory by Tampa Bay last night and the freshness of the painfully horrible December 2nd loss to (mostly) the same Bruins team puts a demon to rest, at least for this fan. Sure, the Lightning will likely suffer humiliation again, and nothing's been changed to prevent that from happening. Yet, for one brief moment, I feel redeemed.
Other Bolts fans might.....rather seek revenge for the 1-0, Game 7 loss in the 2011 Eastern Conference finale last season... But that was a well-played game. It's hard to be bitter about a close loss. Being made fools of? Different story. Just ask Bruins fans today. I'm not writing that to goad, I'm not writing that to gloat, I'm writing it to compare... Because I know the feeling too well from the drubbings we've seen the Lightning take at times over the past two seasons.
I don't write this to gloat. No, sir. Not when I know full well that the Lightning and Bruins will dance one more time this season. Not when I know that game is the second game of a back-to-back affair. Not when I know the first opponent of those back-to-back games is Philadelphia.
We're even, though... For the moment. If that moment lasts past March 27th remains to be seen.
We're still even.... For the moment. But there is an irony looming over tonight's game that must be appreciated for humor sake and for the additional complication it adds to the challenge of tonight's game.
Tonight is the second game of back-to-back games, after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers improbably last night (to the ire of the NBC Sports Net crew). There's another challenge besides having to play the big, bad Bruins? In Boston, for that matter (where the Lightning are 4-23-3 with 6 ties, all time)?
Yes, his name is Sebastien Caron. Tonight, Lightning fans make his acquaintance for the first time.
Caron, signed last week by the Lightning and brought back to the NHL for the first time since (2006-07) will start in net tonight. That's the irony, that's the karma, that's what-goes-around-comes-around.
March 13th saw the Bolts beat up on Boston, who was giving Marty Turco his first start of the season (in his second appearance since having been signed on March 6th). Now, the shoe is on the other foot - it's Tampa Bay that's giving a goalie who played in Europe this season his first NHL start of the year. It's Tampa Bay that's playing on the road.
[Note by John Fontana, 03/27/12 2:00 PM EDT ] This turns things on it's ear: Dwayne Roloson will get the start in net, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced. Guy Boucher "Changed his mind". That's quite a change.
Last night's victory versus the Flyers was improbable, but not impossible. Just as Steven Stamkos getting his 53rd goal of the season against Ilya Bryzgalov was improbable but not impossible with how Bryz has been playing lately. Both happened, it's in the books.
And there's another twist that may temper pessimism that you are probably harboring with tonight's game: Boston is home for the first time in a week. While Monday was an off-day, it was also a travel day for the Bruins, who returned from California. It's an improbable factor for tonight's game, but not impossibility that it does factor in.
But does it trump playing back-to-back games?
Here are a few notes on the injury front: Defenseman Victor Hedman was out last night with an illness. As of this writing, his status for tonight has not been set. Meanwhile, Vincent Lecavalier had traveled with the team for this road trip (as is Nate Thompson) and hopes to return either today in Boston or on Thursday in New Jersey. On the down side - Adam Hall is likely out for the remaining seven games of the season with his injury. That may also spell the end of Hall's tenure in Tampa Bay; he's an unrestricted free agent after the season.