Smaby and Smitty to play; Bolts at Boston Bruins preview

WHERE: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
MEDIA: Sun Sports (Cable), 620 WDAE (radio)

It only took 25 games.

It's certainly not the biggest news for the Tampa Bay sports world, nor is it anywhere near relevant to the general NHL populace, but defenseman Matt Smaby will finally lace them up tonight. It's been three months in the making waiting as Smaby has spent time on the bench, on conditioning stints and recovering from injuries so far this season -- but never had he been penciled intot he lineup.

The story goes that the Smaby had to wait his turn... David Hale, Kurtis Foster and Lukas Krajicek were all in front of him on a roster overstocked with defensive depth. Even with Mattias Ohlund's seven-game absence due to injury, Smaby didn't get any minutes.

That changes tonight.  David Hale will be scratched to accommodate for Smaby in the lineup.

Mike Smith will be in net for the Lightning. Smith is 2-1-3 in his last five games between the pipes with a .913 save percentage and a 2.60 GAA over that span as well.

While the local beat has only just picked up on the lack-of-consistency story on the Lightning, Boston is at the other end of the conversation.  The


boast 9 players with double-digit point totals this season.  The downside of this is that no one on the team has broken the double-digital goal scoring plateau yet this season.

Patrice Bergeron

(7 goals, 11 assists),

Blake Wheeler


Michael Ryder

each have seven goals a piece.

With a steady offense and a steady hand in net (Tim Thomas -2.32 GAA and a .915 save percentage - and Tuukka Rask - 2.02 GAA and .929 save percentage), the B's find themselves in 2nd place in the Northeast division with 31 points in 26 games.

The Bruins boast a rather strong penalty kill unit (84.5% kill rate) and rather dismal power play (16.5% conversion rate).  The team is averaging above 30 shots on goal a night (and then again, seeing they are playing the Lightning, who wouldn't expect that tonight?) and are allowing a little more than 28 shots a game.

This is the first of four meetings between the two teams. And while Zeke Konopka is a fearless fighter, I hope he knows better than to square off against Zdeno Chara.... Just a little bit of a weight, height and reach disadvantage there...

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

(updated December 2, 2009 by RawCharge subject to change)

Forward Lines:

Alex Tanguay - Vincent Lecavalier - Jeff Halpern
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
James Wright - Paul Szczechura - Steve Downie
Kurtis Foster - Zenon Konopka - Stephane Veilleux


Victor Hedman | Mattias Ohlund
Andrej Meszaros | Matt Walker
Lukas Krajicek | Matt Smaby


Mike Smith (starter)
Antero Niittymaki

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

Lightning Examiner