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Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins preview: Which Bolts team will show up?

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The team has been inconsistent so far this year.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins: Game 7

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Location: TD Garden

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, NESN, ESPN+

Opponent SBNation Site: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have played six games on the young season. They have won three of them, lost two of them in regulation, an one in overtime. They’ve looked good in two games, horrible in two games, and average in two games. There are moments when they look like the team that rolled through the regular season last year and times when you wonder if they’ve ever played together before.

That’s not a great look for a team that many have picked to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but it’s also not the end of the world. The fact is, this team doesn’t have to play their best to win games (example - the win against Montreal) but they are at the point where they should at least be able to put forth a consistent effort for sixty minutes. That’s something that has really only happened against Toronto.

With Brayden Point back in the lineup the Lightning have looked much better (shocking, I know) and there is no reason to think they won’t roll out the same line combinations as they did against Montreal. What they do need to do is find a way to stop relying on Andrei Vasilevskiy so much in net. While their young netminder had a stellar game against the Canadiens, allowing 30+ shots night in and night out is not a sustainable model for success.

Going against Boston, currently sporting a 5-1 record and trailing only the surprising Buffalo Sabres in the Atlantic Division standings, the Lightning will need to put forth a full effort in order to win. The Bruins are once again rolling behind their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pasternak. The trio has combined for 11 goals and 13 assists through the first six games of the season.

It might be concerning for some Bruins fans that the top line has accounted for 11 of the team’s 16 goals, and second line center David Krejci left their last game after taking a puck off the foot. However, some of those concerns should be alleviated by the fact that the Bruins don’t allow very many goals. So far they have allowed only 1.67 goals per game, tops in the NHL. The Lightning are going to have to find away to sustain offensive pressure against one of the best shut down teams in the NHL right now.

Last season, the Lightning took three out of four games (including splitting the two games at TD Garden) from their burgeoning rivals, but overall their franchise record is a dismal 36-69-9 against the Bruins with a bleak 11-46-6 record in Boston.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Yanni Gourde

Patrick Maroon - Carter Verhaeghe - Luke Witkowski

Injured: Cedric Paquette

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Jan Rutta

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Boston Bruins

Forward Lines

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pasternak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci (?) - Brett Richie

Danton Heinen - Charlie Croyle - Karson Kuhlman

Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner

Defensive Pairings

Zdeno Chara - Charlie Mcavoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk - Steve Kampfer

Goaltending

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak