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Playoffs without the playoffs; Tampa Bay Lightning host Boston Bruins (preview)

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WHERE:  St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EST
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGEStanley Cup of Chowder

The tight race continues in the Eastern Conference.  The Bolts found themselves seeded 6th in the playoff chase after Tuesday's victory against Vancouver.  And now, all of two-days later, they are on the cusp of being bounced from playoff seeding in general.

Though we're still in the middle of the season, and on the verge of a two week Olympic break, what we're all witnessing now amounts to playoff caliber hockey.  These final three games pre-Olympic break will all be against teams vying for a shot at the playoffs.  

And tonight, there is no bigger weight on the Lightning than earning two points against the Boston Bruins, who are seeded ninth.  Should the Bolts lose in regulation, they wuld be losign the 8th seed they currently hold to these very Bruins.

One of the biggest stories for the Bolts during their current hot streak (7-0-1 in last eight) is alsoa  potential problem.  No, no, no, I'm not getting on Antero Niittymaki and his play in net (which was praised in the St. Pete Times today).  Actually it was the blessing / curse of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.  While the Bolts need and want as much offense production from the duo as possible, they also need production from the other ten forwards that the team dresses every given night.

The point is that the Lightning need to spread the scoring responsibility around.  Hitting posts (which has been all too common as of late) does not qualify as anything more than a missed opportunity and a blown chance.

Speaking of Stamkos, Puck Daddy's got a good article today stressing the point Stamkos wasn't snubbed an Olympic spot.  Oh, and to compliment that, Martin Fennelly at the Trib blasts Team Canada for Martin St. Louis being left off the roster.

The Bruins are currently boasting the league's second-best penalty kill unit, snuffing out 86.4% of opposing opportunities.  That is a strong potential foil to the Bolts strength of playing with a man-advantage, where they are currently conveting 19.2 percent of chances. 

 

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

 

Forward Lines:

Stephane Veilleux  - Vincent Lecavalier - Alex Tanguay
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
 Ryan Malone - Jeff Halpern - Nate Thompson
Todd Fedoruk - Zenon Konopka - Kurtis Foster


Defense:

 Mattias Ohlund - Mike Lundin
Matt Smaby - Victor Hedman
Andrej Meszaros - Matt Walker

Goalies

Antero Niittymaki (starter)
Mike Smith

 


 

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

Loving the Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning Examiner

TSN