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Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning: Hold onto your butts

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Here we go.

RxlandS

Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME# 80

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, good old NESN

Opponent SBNation Site: Our fine frenemies at Stanley Cup of Chowder

Preview

Let’s lead with what Brad Marchand did during the Boston Bruins’ last game against Philadelphia:

Resulting in this:

And this fine fact:

Marchand is also one of the rare men that Steven Stamkos has fought:

I thought I’d get an explanation for Marchand’s behavior straight from a fan, so I asked Stanley Cup of Chowder writer Jake Reiser to field some bluntly honest questions for us in advance of tonight’s game.

Raw Charge: WHY DOES MARCHAND DO THE THING? He’s such a kind-hearted guy to fans, open-minded, and really good at hockey. So What The ... ?

Jake Reiser: I don’t know if it’s an inferiority complex but that’s what it feels like to me. Even scoring 30-40 goals a season, he got in this league by being a pest, so it’s something in his hockey DNA. Cassidy and Sweeney have talked about getting it out of him, but it’s something that seems like it’s going to take time to adjust to mentally. I believe Cassidy said, and I paraphrase, “He’s firmly earned an NHL spot, he doesn’t need to do that anymore, so we’re trying to work away from it.” He does wear his heart on his sleeve and is a feisty and fiery guy, but that’s not any excuse for some of the things he’s done.

Raw Charge: I feel like Cassidy and Sweeney took a while to get adjusted to the league, but this season they’ve been like gangbusters. Tell me when you felt they had a solid hold over the team and their style, and what you like best about these guys?

Jake Reiser: I think December is when I started to get faith that making the playoffs wasn’t a one-and-done and these guys have a good system in place. It’s faith in the youth, it’s knowing this league is a speed game and matching the speed with equal intensity in hitting, forecheck and defense, it’s trust not just the young guys, but everyone actually knows how to score and giving them more of the ice to work with.

Claude was so limiting of the offense, but Bruce recognizes and fosters those skills. Bruce and Don sat together this offseason and talked about their vision, and it involved prospects, an edge for Bruce since he raised so many of these kids from Providence. Sweeney not necessarily bucked what I feel like Neely sees as a roster but trusted Cassidy and has worked with him to add the pieces that make sense for the team.

No one is at odds, it’s a complete system, it’s a voice that isn’t stale in the locker room and pushes their buttons in the right way. In December, even with injuries, they found a groove, went on a nice run, and just this whole season in general, injuries have never become an excuse for poor performance.

Raw Charge: Florida, St. Louis, Columbus, and Winnipeg all beat you guys within the past 15 games. What was it about those teams that seemed to beat the Bruins system, and how do you think the Bruins overcome it?

Jake Reiser: As far as the St Louis game, even with a raw defense, they still only gave up 20 shots, and that seemed more like luck for St. Louis to get two goals. Offensively, they did a great job of matching hard lines to our top guys, big defenseman like Parayko and Edmonson physically keeping the Bruins outside the hashmarks and limiting quality chances.

Florida, same thing, a trap defense that limits creativity and inside-the-marks shots (even though they got blown out this weekend in Boston. Columbus, Vanek is always a Bruins killer, and I believe that OT was even contentious. Winnipeg is a tough team to beat. Great 5-on-5 play, big bodies like Stasny, Laine, Byfuglien, they play hard and hit harder, we were lucky to score 3 PPGs on a major to Morrissey for boarding Gryz or else the game probably would have looked uglier.

Raw Charge: Are you guys ready for the first round against a Metro foe, likely the New Jersey Devils? Wouldn’t you rather drop to second in the Atlantic and face the Maple Leafs? What are you feeling about the first round?

Jake Reiser: We actually had a whole podcast segment on this on UnSoupervised! Toronto always give the Bruins fits, especially with Andersen, even as overworked as he may be. Philly would be a tough challenge, NJ would probably be best even with Taylor Hall. Tuukka seems to be on his game as of late, and for as fast a team as they seem to be, the defense is an area I think they lack in and Corey Schneider hasn’t been the same since his injury caused the last time they played the Bruins. Looking at goaltending behind him, it isn’t much better

Home ice/road ice doesn’t matter too much to the team it seems, they have great home/road splits, but as far as opponents go, as fun as BOS/TOR would be with both Bergeron and Matthews healthy, it’s a risk facing Andersen.

Raw Charge: Final question. Is there a Boston version of Toronto’s Dart Guy, and what do you imagine he’d look like?

Jake Reiser:

Raw Charge: Awesome. I hope you guys do incredibly poorly tomorrow, and many thanks for answering our preview questions!

Tampa Bay Lightning

Lineup notes:

Forwards

JT Miller - ?? - Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson

Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Defense

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Boston Bruins

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Donato

Heinen-Backes-Gionta

Schaller-Acciari-Cave

Defense

Chara-McAvoy (I believe he’ll be in tomorrow)

Krug-Miller

Holden-Grzelcyk or Grzelcyk-McQuaid

Goaltenders

Rask

Khudobin