Two teams are battling it out for the Stanley Cup on catfish-laden ice. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning are not one of those two teams. In order to fill the void for Lightning fans, Raw Charge is breaking down the past season team by team to see who helped and who hurt the season.
Opponent: Boston Bruins
November 3, 2016 in Tampa: Boston 4 Tampa Bay 3 (SO)
November 27, 2016 in Boston: Boston 4 Tampa Bay 1
January 31, 2017 in Tampa: Boston 4 Tampa Bay 3
March 23, 2017 in Boston: Tampa Bay 6 Boston 3
April 4, 2017 in Boston: Boston 4 Tampa Bay 0
Overall Goals During Season Series:
Boston: 18 (Shootout goals aren’t real goals)
Tampa Bay: 13
Goals: Kucherov (3), Hedman (2), Johnson (2), Killorn (2), Point (2), Drouin (1), Stralman (1)
Assists: Hedman (6), Drouin (3), Palat (3), Dotchin (2), Johnson (2), Point (2), Coburn (1), Filppula (1), Killorn (1), Koekkoek (1), Kucherov (1), Namestnikov (1), Stamkos (1), Stralman (1)
Ben Bishop: .863 SV% (7 goals on 51 shots)
Peter Budaj: .903 SV% (3 goals on 31 shots)
Andrei Vasilevskiy: .899 SV% (7 goals on 69 shots)
Notes from the Previews:
November 3rd - @bethelhub, Bruins at Lightning Preview
“The Bruins sit at 5-4-0 and only two points behind the Lightning in the Atlantic Division race. In order for the Bolts to separate themselves from the pack they need fast starts. You’ve heard it before, and if you have watched Jon Cooper’s press conferences for the last few years, it seems like it’s all he talks about. But Tampa Bay needs to buy into the mentality that every shift matters and even as the puck drops for the first minute that attention to detail on defense needs to happen.”
November 27th - @waffleboardsave, Bolts at Bruins preview: On the road again
“The Lightning, which has won the last four of their five games on the road, are facing a Bruins team that has lost three straight games in four days. In this span, they’ve only scored four goals, including just one on five-on-five. Two of those five goals have come from David Pasternak.”
January 31st - @torchramrod, Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Desperate times are here
“At this point in the season they can’t afford to leave anymore points on the ice. If they don’t score they won’t be able to do that. The Lightning need someone other than Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin to start scoring. The good news is that it looks like Alex Killorn might be getting back on track as he’s picked up 3 points in his last two games.”
March 23rd - @waffleboardsave, Lightning at Bruins preview: Down... but not out
“The Lightning pulled together a heck of a stretch to bring them this close to the playoffs — remember that they were sitting completely last in the conference at one point — but now, it’s like they don’t even know what type of hockey they want to be playing. 1-0 games? When they’re giving up five goals? We’re by no means an expert at math, but that doesn’t add up to points.”
April 4th - @bethelhub, Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins Preview: Playoff Implications
“Although the Bolts’ powerplay is something to be reckoned with, they will have to play a much smarter, defense-first style of hockey, unlike their play of late. Bolts have to keep turnovers to a minimum and possess the puck to create chances and sustain pressure. But that’s the key to every game, right? Let’s hope Nikita Kucherov continues his powerplay madness and sets up some needed scoring help for the Bolts.”
Notes from the Recaps:
November 3rd - @bethelhub, Bolts lose heartbreaker to Bruins in 10-round shootout
“Bolts yet again had another slow start. Maybe fatigue from the road trip?”
November 27th - @achariya, Bolts lose net-front battles, 4-1 to Bruins
“Despite ‘winning’ possession in a better game than against Columbus, the Bolts lost this game to Boston, 4-1. The story of the game was net-front presence. Despite keeping the puck in the offensive zone more often than Boston, and shooting it as often as they could (shots ended 31-30, Bolts), the Bolts were unable to generate enough high-danger shots in front of Tuukka Rask to break through.”
January 31st - @loserpoints, The Lightning lose 4-3 to the Boston Bruins
“Boston showed in the second and third period tonight why their numbers suggest they are one of the better teams in the east, and unlike much of the season, they got the results they deserved. The Lightning continued to struggle and will enter February well out of the playoff race.”
March 23rd - @saima_1226, Kucherov’s hat-trick powers the Lightning past the Bruins
“The Bolts were able to fend off the Bruins attack to retain the lead and win in regulation. Ultimately, this team continues to depend primarily on one line (Palat-Point-Kucherov) and Victor Hedman to drive offensive momentum.”
April 4th - @iactium, Boston clinches playoff berth with a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay
“In a game that was Tampa Bay’s biggest of the season the Lightning laid an inexcusable egg. There was no visible desperation from the Bolts and they were consistently out-skated and outfought by a Bruins team that was clearly hungry. Although the Lightning isn't mathematically eliminated yet (there is still a slim chance they make the post season) losing this game almost solidifies their early tee-times for the summer.” *Writers Note*: This was about as PG as I could plausibly make this part of the recap when I wrote it. I had more choice words for the dumpster fire that was on display for the April 4th game.
Thoughts from the other side:
Jake Reiser from Stanley Cup of Chowder was kind enough to give his thoughts on the season:
Other than one minor hiccup at the end of March, the Bruins season series against the Lightning showed the evolution of the B’s throughout the season. It all started with a slog of a shootout, ended with Jimmy Hayes scoring the the unlikely game winner, all the way to what felt like a relieving and resounding shutout victory to clinch their first playoff spot in three years.
Playing the Lightning has always felt like a benchmark for the Bruins the last few seasons; trips to Florida serving as a reminder of how Boston stacks up in their own division. This year, however, “benchmark” didn’t feel quite right.
Without Stamkos, with goaltending juggling between Bishop and Vasilevskiy (the Bruins even saw Peter Budaj in net after the Bishop trade), something felt different playing Tampa Bay last year, and it worked to the Bruins advantage. With a healthy Stamkos, Vasilevskiy firmly entrenched in net, and Steve Yzerman doing his thing as a wizard of a GM, expect healthy competition once again between these two division foes next season.
Still, the B’s can have fun in saying they resoundingly won the season series, 4-1.
Did Boston hurt or help the Lightning’s season?
This is a joke right? Boston helping Tampa Bay? You can’t be serious right now. It’s Boston, a division rival. A hated one at that. The Bruins would rather eat paint chips than help Tampa Bay (or any team for that matter).
Boston won four out of five games against the Lightning earning eight out of a possible ten points up for grabs. Tampa Bay only managed three out of ten (yay loser points!). It’s one thing if Tampa Bay loses to a Western conference team, those points aren’t as important; however, giving up eight points directly to a division rival is a surefire way to make the playoff sojourn even more painful.
There were only two games the Lightning looked competent against Boston. The January 31st and March 23rd games (the November 3rd game was a comeback loss they had little business even getting to the shootout) were contests that showed the Lightning still had some fight left in them during their mad scramble for a postseason berth.
The January game was a back and forth affair that the Lightning could have pulled off if not for a shaky middle portion of the third period. Whereas the March game showed what the Lightning could do if they put all of the pieces together and played a more consistent style.
The Boston games were a microcosm of what the Lightning were this season. Flashes of brilliance (January 31st’s back and forth battle, and March’s thrashing win) and a steady dose of disappointment (every other Boston game). Tampa Bay’s goaltending never seemed to be much of a factor either. The Bruins never scored less than 3 goals in any of the five games played and the combination of Bishop, Budaj, or Vasilevskiy never stood out as the de-facto anchor for Tampa Bay during those games.
Verdict: Boston hurt us like hell.
The Lightning got about what they deserved from Boston. The got outshot in the five game series. The teams generated similar shot danger, which means Boston also generated more expected goals. And those expected goals translated pretty cleanly in actual goals. The lone bright spots for the Lightning in their games agains Boston were Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. David Pastrnak was dominant for the Bruins.