Bruins Look to Surge Up Conference Standings Against Lightning

Bruins Look to Surge Up Conference Standings Against Lightning For the first time since late February, the Bruins have put together two 60-minute efforts, and they take a two-game winning streak into another crucial game. Unlike the last few games, however, the Bruins won’t just be looking in the rearview mirror — they will be looking ahead as they try to catch the teams in front of them, with a chance to finish the season as high as fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Lightning are coming off a 2-1 overtime win over Carolina on Tuesday, but they are all but done as far as making the playoffs go. That could prove to make them more dangerous for the Bruins, as the Bolts have nothing to lose and aren’t under the pressure that the Bruins are as the B's jockey for playoff position.

WHEN AND WHERE

March 25, 7 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

RECORDS

Bruins (32-27-12, 78 points, fourth place in Northeast Division, eighth place in Eastern Conference)
Lightning (29-32-12, 70 points, fourth in Southeast Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)

HEAD TO HEAD

This is the final meeting of the season between the Bruins and Lightning. The Bruins held on for a 5-4 win after taking a 5-0 lead in their last game with the Lightning at Tampa Bay on Feb. 11.

SKINNY

With a win and a Montreal loss on Thursday, the Bruins could leapfrog the Flyers and tie the Habs for sixth in the Eastern Conference. They still could conceivably finish fifth if they were to catch Ottawa. Last week, they were worried about teams below them, and now the Bruins are looking up and hopefully past teams ahead of them.

"We can pass these teams if we play the way we're playing the last two games," Mark Recchi told NESN.com. "We're getting it together at the perfect time."

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Bruins
Forwards

Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Milan Lucic–Brad Marchand–Miroslav Satan
Daniel Paille–Steve Begin–Shawn Thornton

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart–Dennis Wideman
Matt Hunwick/Johnny Boychuk–Andrew Ference

Goaltenders
Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

Lightning
Forwards

Steve Downie–Steven Stamkos–Alex Tanguay

Marty St. Louis–Vinny Lecavalier–Teddy Purcell

Brandon Bochenski–Nate Thompson–Stephane Veilleux

Paul Szczechura–Zenon Konopka–Todd Fedoruk

Defensemen
Mike Lundin–Andrej Meszaros

Victor Hedman–Matt Walker

Kurtis Foster–Matt Smaby

Goaltenders
Antero Niittymaki
Mike Smith

GOALTENDER MATCHUP

Bruins
Tuukka Rask is 18-10-4 with a 2.02 goals against average, a .930 save percentage and four shutouts. Rask made 28 saves in the 4-0 win over the Thrashers Tuesday. He ranks first in GAA and first in save percentage in the NHL.

Tim Thomas is 15-17-8 with a 2.57 GAA and a .914 save percentage. He has four shutouts. Thomas has not started since March 15 in New Jersey, when he was pulled after allowing three first-period goals in a 3-2 loss.

Lightning
Antero Niittymaki is 19-16-5 with a 2.72 GAA and .912 save percentage. He has one shutout. Niittymaki made 27 saves in the 3-2 overtime win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

Mike Smith is 10-16-7 with a 3.12 GAA and .900 save percentage. He has one shutout.

STAT SHEET

Bruins
Patrice Bergeron (16 goals, 29 assists) had an assist Tuesday and leads the team with 46 points.

Marco Sturm leads the team with 21 goals.

David Krejci
had a goal and an assist Tuesday and now has 11 points in the 12 games since the Olympic break. The Bruins are also 9-2-2 this season when Krejci scores a goal. Krejci is second on the team with 42 points.

Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist Tuesday and now has three points in his last two games. Lucic now has eight goals and seven assists this season.

Miroslav Satan
scored for the second straight game Tuesday and now has three points in his last four games. Satan has six goals and five assists this season.

Steve Begin scored his first goal in 28 games on Tuesday and now has four lamplighters and 13 points this season.

Zdeno Chara
had an assist Tuesday and leads the team with 31 assists and leads the defense in points with 36.

Dennis Seidenberg had an assist Tuesday and now has six points in 11 games with the Bruins since being acquired at the trade deadline. Seidenberg has 27 helpers and 29 points.

The Bruins went 0-for-2 on the power play Tuesday and are now 40-for-233 with a 17.2 percent success rate. The Bruins are 1-for-21 on the power play since Marc Savard was injured in Pittsburgh on March 7.
 
The Bruins killed off both Thrashers power plays Tuesday. They have surrendered only 34 goals on 248 power plays faced. The Bruins’ penalty kill is ranked first in the NHL with an 86.3 percent success rate.

Lightning
Martin St. Louis leads the team in assists with 59 and points with 85. St. Louis snapped a seven-game goal-scoring drought with a pair of goals, one of them being the OT winner against Carolina on Tuesday.

Steve Stamkos is having a monster sophomore season, as he is ranked third in the NHL with 43 goals and sixth with 84 points. Stamkos has four points in his last four games.

Vincent Lecavalier had an assist Tuesday and now has four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in four straight games. Lecavalier has been on fire since the Olympic break with seven goals and 10 points in 12 games. Lecavalier now has 65 points this season.

Steve Downie scored his seventh power-play goal of the season Tuesday, becoming the first player since Theo Fluery in 2001-02 to score 20 goals and have 200 penalty minutes in the same season. Downie is only the fifth player since 1992-93 to do this. Downie has 43 points this season and three goals in his last four games.

BLACK AND BLUE

Bruins
Marc Savard is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Vladimir Sobotka is doubtful with a sore neck.

Lightning
Paul Ranger
is out indefinitely on personal leave.

Mattias Ohlund is out indefinitely with a sprained left ankle.

Ryan Malone is out 1-2 weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery last week.

THIS DATE IN BRUINS HISTORY

On March 25, 1982, Barry Pederson becomes the fifth rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals.

OVERHEARD

"We’ve got to make sure these next games — even though we don’t play teams that are around us in the standings — we’ve got to make sure we play them the same way."
–Zdeno Chara, on he and the Bruins not taking any teams lightly and treating every game with equal importance

PRESS BOX

Bruins
Does the Andrew Ference contract extension limit the Bruins?

Vladimir Sobotka is doubtful for this game.

Lightning
Steve Downie is walking the fine line of being a goon and being a rough and tough sniper

Mattias Ohlund wants to play again this season.

NHL
Kathryn Tappen
wonders why there's such a delay in instituting the new head-shot rule.

The Rangers and Islanders game Wednesday night was broadcast in 3D.

OUTLOOK

As Chara pointed out, this game has all the makings of a trap game for the Bruins. With the Lightning out of the playoff picture and struggling, they will be easy to overlook, and this is the first time since March 16 at Carolina that the Bruins aren’t playing a possible playoff team — or as in the last two games, one that is chasing them for the final spot in the playoffs.

The Bruins need to bring that up-tempo game they have had the past two games with a good forechecking game and physical play at both ends of the ice. Every game is a playoff game now and it doesn’t matter who the Bruins are playing.

Yardbarker

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 190,195 other followers