Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: TD Garden
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, TVAS, SNE, SNO, BSSUN, NESN
Opponent SBNation Site: Stanley Cup of Chowder
After losing to the Carolina Hurricanes two days ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning have found themselves in a very unusual slump. The Lightning have lost six out of their ten previous games, with all of the losses came against playoff teams. They’ve dropped to third place in the Atlantic Division and the lead over the Boston Bruins has decreased to one point. The Bruins host the Bolts tonight at TD Garden in Boston and have a real chance to leapfrog them in the standings.
Struggling in the final weeks of the regular season is not a new thing for the Lightning though. In 2020-21 the Lightning ended the regular season with three straight losses, while in 2019-20 they lost seven out of ten final games, but despite these struggles they managed to win the Cup both times.
The Lightning have acquired two new pieces at the trade deadline and their adjustment to the lineup will obviously take some time. Nick Paul made his debut against the Canes on Tuesday night. Given the circumstances in which he joined the team on the morning before the game, his debut was solid considering he had never practiced with the team. He played around ten minutes on a line with Anthony Cirelli and Ross Colton, scored a goal in his first game and their line overall made a positive impression, recording 66.23 xGF% — most than any other Lightning’s line. Paul also got some minutes on penalty kill and unfortunately was on the ice for two opponent’s power play goals.
Brandon Hagel had been promoted to the first line in his second game with the Lightning. The line with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat were noticeable on the ice, but were slightly outplayed by the opponent. At yesterday’s practice Hagel skated with Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos on the second line, while the coaching staff reunited the infamous Palat-Point-Kucherov line. Expect these lines to be shuffled constantly in the next weeks, as Jon Cooper and his staff will look for more optimal combination.
a look at the lines …— Gabby Shirley (@Gabby_Shirley_) March 23, 2022
Palat - Point - Kucherov
Killorn - Stamkos - Hagel
Maroon - Bellemare - Perry
Paul - Cirelli - Colton
The Bruins also made some changes ahead of the playoffs. Josh Brown, who was acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline hasn’t joined the team yet, Hampus Lindholm has already practiced with his new teammates yesterday’s morning. According to the Bruins’ head coach Bruce Cassidy, Lindholm will play on the first pair alongside Charlie McAvoy, moving Mike Reilly down in the lineup.
Patrice Bergeron, who missed previous three games due to infection in his elbow, is probable for tonight’s game. The 36-year-old Bruins captain will be evaluated later this morning.
The season series between Tampa and Boston is even so far. The Lightning won the first game in Boston in December, while the Bruins defeated the Bolts in January at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Brandon Hagel
Ross Colton - Anthony Cirelli - Nick Paul
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak
Boston Bruins Lines:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall - Erik Haula - David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic - Charlie Coyle - Craig Smith
Nick Foligno - Tomas Nosek - Curtis Lazar
Hampus Lindholm - Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk - Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort - Mike Reilly