Tim Thomas may be gone, but the Tampa Bay Lightning still have to both shoot on goal and solve a formidable Bruins Goaltender in Tuuku Rask. - Christian Petersen
The weather in New England is frightful, but hockey is so delightful... Will the Lightning/Bruins game go on as (re)scheduled at 7 PM tonight? And Tampa Bay overcome it's own shortcomings in Boston?
Let me invoke a different winter song than the title of this preview uses, but it's just as relevant:
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
For a normal resident of greater New England, the classic opening verse for the song Let It Snow might have applied - well, last night. Today residents are digging out... or putting off digging out until tomorrow? Whatever the case, New England got dumped on with snow yesterday and Boston proper is still seeing snowfall in the morning hours of this Saturday.
Perhaps the Tampa Bay Lightning can be labeled as snow-tourists, and the rules of the song don't quite apply to them - because they certainly have places to go despite the snow. Until the Boston Bruins franchise of NHL officials say otherwise, it's business as usual at TD Garden tonight when the Lightning play the Bruins. The game has already been pushed back from its originally slated start time of 1 PM due to weather conditions. We'll keep you informed if any further changes occur, but I don't believe that's likely.
The Bolts 5-30-6 all-time record against the Bruins (in the regular season) in Boston - that third number represents ties, not overtime losses - comes into play just as much as the fact as the Lightning have lost their past three games. Tampa has some demons to exorcise with this game.
One of those aforementioned demons is shots on goal and the lack thereof during two of three of the Bolts recent losses. To their credit, the Flyers and Devils have both seemingly found a way to halt Tampa Bay's offense: crowd the lanes and break up passes. Solid goaltending goes a long way too, of course, but limiting the Lightning's shots on net seems to be doing more damage to the Lightning offense than anything else.
Well, over thinking trying to get past goalies is also an issue. During Tuesday's loss in Philadelphia, the Lightning seemed to be too concerned with trying to be deft and throw off Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. New Jersey limits shots to begin with, and Martin Brodeur has always stood as the last-line-of-defense for the Devils. Today? It's Tuukka Rask in net for Boston.
Ah, Boston goaltending, that's a story unto itself. Tim Thomas, the great sage and imminent frustration for opposing offenses, has been traded to the New York Islanders for next to nothing. The trade was looked at as simply the Islanders keeping their heads above the NHL salary cap floor (and giving the Bruins salary cap space to work with). Thomas is not expected to play this season, as he proclaimed publicly, while he focuses on politics.
With Tim being out, it's Tuukku time in Boston. Tuukku Rask has led the Bruins to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 6-1-1 record in eight starts. While his 1.97 GAA and .922 save percentage aren't in the top five in the league, they're more formidable than the numbers Bryzgalov and Brodeur previously challenged the Lightning with. Rask also has one of the better defenses in the league playing in front of him.
The Lightning will likely start Matthieu Garon tonight, giving Anders Lindback the start tomorrow at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers (...if the Lightning can make it there). Pierre-Cedric Labrie looks to be in the lineup again and B.J. Crombeen will return to playing according to Damian Cristodero on Twitter.
Speaking of offense and defense - Martin St. Louis leads the league in assets with 13 at this point. Steven Stamkos is among the top five in the league with 7 goals, and defensemen Victor Hedman and Sami Salo are tied for the league lead in plus / minus with a plus-10 rating. To be honest, that's the first time in recent memory I can think of a Lightning player being among league leaders in the statistic.
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