Savings Time; Tampa Bay Lightning versus Boston Bruins preview
Tampa Bay is on a 1-4-0 funk since the Olympic break, it doesn't get easier tonight with the Buuins in town for the season series finale. Can the Bolts "spring ahead" and get back on track?Follow @RawCharge
Where: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
When: 7 PM EST | Tickets: Check availability
Television: Sun Sports, RDS | Radio: 970 AM WFLA
Opponent Coverage: Stanley Cup of Chowder, Days of Y'orr
Saturday marks the final day of standard time in much of the US and North America until the fall; "spring forward," and all that. Lose an hour of sleep; gain an hour of sunlight in the evening.
Right now, savings time applies for the Lightning. It has nothing.
While the clock matters, it's not an hour of the day - it's the time of the season (hello, Zombies fans!) in the NHL where things are gearing up for the hockey played after the regular season; we're talking playoffs here.
And with the direction of the club since the end of the 2014 winter Olympic break, there is a great need for the Lightning to follow the instructions of DST and turn their clocks forward and get going again.
Yes, what I just wrote is exceedingly cheesy, but it's factual. Tampa Bay being 1-4-0 since February 27th is not a good thing neither is the distraction. You know it, they - the team - knows about it. But as I said Thursday, life goes on and, as a team, the Lightning are going to have to operate with the new reality. They're going to have to do it against the mighty Bruins tonight at Times Palace.
The object isn't just getting back into gear; it's also avoiding the season sweep at the hands of the B's. Yeah, this is the series finale, which is sort of another bullet point on scheduling flaws this season; three games against an integral divisional opponent were played within the first five weeks of the season (October 6th, October 13th, November 11th) instead of spread through the schedule or massed at the end of the season when they matter the most.
Boston has owned Tampa, though, so when these games have been played doesn't quite matter.
The Bruins are 6-2-2 in their past ten, building on their lead over the Bolts in the standings by 8 points in that span (the Lightning are 3-7-0 in their past 10 games) and the usual suspects (David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, plus hired gun Jarome Iginla) are all part of the potent threat from the Bruins offense.
Speaking of Iggy, two things:
1) It's apt that he's showing up in March in Tampa with the Lightning's 10th Anniversary celebration taking place in just more than a week. Jarome was part of the 2003-04 Western Conference champion Calgary Flames who the Lightning played in the Stanley Cup finals.
2) He and Bolts defenseman Radko Gudas will not be continuing their love affair of previous games. Radko and Iggy had danced a few times in the three previous meetings between the two clubs. Gudas is out tonight as a scratch, still on the mend with his ambiguous lower body injury (it's his leg.)
Some interesting notes about the lineup tonight for Tampa: While the Bolts are skating an 11/7 roster split, one of the scratches are exceedingly notable - rookie Nikita Kucherov. Nikita has played every game since his recall by Tampa months ago, and he's shown greatly responsible play and offensive upside. The offensive aspect (as well as Steven Stamkos' broken leg) was part of what led to his recall from the Syracuse Crunch. Kucherov hasn't scored a point in his last four games and has only five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in his last 15, and is a minus-3 in that 15 game span as well (while seeing most of his playing time on the third line.) He started the last game playing alongside top-line center Valtteri Filppula and new addition Ryan Callahan and saw 13:52 of ice time.
Tom Pyatt will be in the lineup again, while Ryan Malone and B.J. Crombeen will join Kucherov and Gudas in the press box.
The one aspect of the game that could make this a very frustrating night for both teams - if these guys play up to the level they've done all season - is the matchup in net: It's Tuukka Rask versus Ben Bishop in goal. Both goalies have high save percentages (.928 for Rask, .931 for Bishop) and low goals-against average (2.15 for Rask as to 2.07 for Bishop.) That has low-scoring goalie duel written all over it, but one thing is for sure - neither team should leave everything up to how well their goaltending performs. Boston sure as hell won't... It remains to be seen if the Lightning will do Bishop a favor and play strongly in their zone to limit Boston chances.
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