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Bruins at Lightning Preview and GDT: A Test Against the Best

Nov 21, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Game #19: Boston Bruins (13-1-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (8-6-4)
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, ESPN+,

Opponent’s Site:

Preview

Did anyone outside of the Boston area really think the Bruins would be doing this again? I’ll admit that I thought they would be in for a huge drop-off and possibly end up a borderline playoff team. The Athletic was a little higher on them, predicting them to hit the 104-point plateau before the season started, stating that “they will not be a 135-point team again” (for the record they put the Lightning at 94.9 points).

They may have to sweat that prediction out as the Bruins are off to a start almost as dominating as last year’s. Through 16 games they were 14-2 last year. This year they are 13-1-2 for the same amount of points.

Probably the most impressive part of their record is that they are doing it by being pretty good, but not dominating at things. They are scoring 3.44 goals per game which ranks 11th in the league with a 23.6% power play (10th in the league). They’re in the middle of the pack in unblocked shot attempts (44.09/60) and top 10, but not top five in expected goals, scoring chances, and high-danger chances. In fact, they are pretty close to the Lightning in most of the offensive stats.

Defensively, they put the Lightning to shame as they are leading the league in goals against at 2.00 and penalty kill percentage at 91.5%. Again, their underlying stats are good, but not overwhelming. They are 22nd in unblocked shots against (44.46/60), 16th in shots against (30.16/60), 14th in scoring chances against (28.8/60), and 19th in high-danger chances against (12.33/60).

So how are they leading the league? Well, it’s pretty simple. Goaltending. The duo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have combined for a 93.43 SV%, tops in the league. Swayman has posted a 10.22 GSAx and Ullmark is at 5.6. Not a shabby combination.

What might make this all the more impressive is that they’ve done it with a significant roster turnover. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retired. Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov, and Taylor Hall left during the summer. They went heavy on veterans in free agency, signing Morgan Geekie, Milan Lucic, Kevin Shattenkirk, James van Riemsdyk, and Jesper Boqvist. Their most intriguing new player, though, might be teenager Matthew Poitras, who has 8 points in 16 games.

Outside of the 19-year-old, their offense is coming from familiar names as David Pastrnak has 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) and Brad Marchand has 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists). Pavel Zacha, elevated to the top center role has 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists).

They are dealing with a couple of key injuries right now. Their top defenseman, Matt Grzelcyk, has been out of the line-up since October 30th with an upper-body injury and isn’t expected back for another week or so. Geekie is also on Injured Reserve with a questionable return date.

The Bruins are also without veteran forward Milan Lucic. Back for his second stint with Boston, Lucic was rehabbing an ankle injury. Then on Saturday morning he was arrested after an alleged domestic incident and has been place on indefinite leave.

As for the Lightning, they’re riding a two-game winning streak after picking up wins against a couple of Western Conference opponents in Chicago and Edmonton (they’re now 5-2-1 against the West this season). Have they been the best wins? Eh, does it matter at this point? Overall, they weren’t as bad as you might think. A rough first period against the Oilers distorted the stats a bit in that one, but they showed a lot of resilience in the 6-4 win.

While Andrei Vasilevskiy is still at least a week away from returning, it looks like Anthony Cirelli should be back as he was at practice on Sunday. Luke Glendening wasn’t at practice, but according to the coaching staff the veteran took a maintenance day and should be good to go for the game.

It’s going to be a big test for the Lightning, perhaps their biggest of the year. They can’t afford any of the 5-10 minute lapses in concentration that we’ve seen time and time again this season. It may be a slightly different looking Bruins roster, but they will still be a challenge.

Stats Match-up

Game #19Tampa Bay LightningBoston Bruins
Overall Record8-6-413-1-2
Home Record5-2-27-0-1
Road Record3-4-26-1-1
Goals For6356
Goals Against6532
xGF60.2752.21
xGA60.2747.04
Power Play31.7%23.6%
Penalty Kill85.2%91.5%
Stats via ESPN and Natural Stat Trick

Lines

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Forwards
Brandon Hagel – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos – Anthony Cirelli – Nick Paul
Tanner Jeannot – Tyler Motte – Michael Eyssimont
Cole Koepke – Luke Glendening – Alex BarrĂ©-Boulet

Defenders
Victor Hedman – Nick Perbix
Mikhail Sergachev – Erik Cernak
Calvin de Haan – Darren Raddysh

Goalies
Jonas Johansson
Matt Tomkins

Boston Bruins Projected Lines

Forwards
Brad Marchand – Pavel Zacha – David Pastrnak

James van Riemsdyk – Charlie Croyle – Trent Frederic

Danton Heinen – Matthew Poitras – Jake DeBrusk

Jakub Lauko – John Beecher – Oskar Steen

Defenders
Mason Lohrei – Charlie McAvoy

Hampus Lindholm – Brandon Carlo

Derek Forbort – Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies
Jeremy Swayman

Linus Ullmark

Question of the Night

Can the Lightning sustain enough pressure in the offensive zone to trouble the Bruins offense?

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