The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to meet for the third time in the 2021-22 NHL season, but this one certainly feels different.
The Bruins are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division standings and are seeking to overtake the third-place Lightning in a heated race for positions in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by claiming two points on home ice.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy maintains the other pairings, with Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo on the second and Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton on the third. Mike Reilly will be a healthy scratch.
Boston received some bad news Thursday morning as Patrice Bergeron will miss his fourth consecutive game due to an elbow infection. He was upgraded to “probable” Wednesday, but doctors didn’t clear him to face Tampa. Jack Studnicka will continue as the first-line center in Bergeron’s absence.
The Bruins and Lightning have split their season series so far, with Tampa winning 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 8 and Boston exacting revenge Jan. 8 in a 5-2 victory.
NESN will air Bruins versus Lightning in full, with pregame coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. Puck drop from TD Garden is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
Here are the projected lines and defensive pairings for Bruins-Lightning:
BOSTON BRUINS (39-19-5)
Brad Marchand–Jack Studnicka–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–Connor Clifton
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (39-17-6)
Ondrej Palat–Brayden Point–Brandon Hagel
Alex Killorn–Steven Stamkos–Nikita Kucherov
Nick Paul–Anthony Cirelli–Ross Colton
Pat Maroon–Pierre-Edouard Bellemare–Corey Perry
Victor Hedman–Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh–Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev–Erik Cernak
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