The last time these two teams met was in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. It was perhaps the best game of the season – and certainly the best game I have ever witnessed live. TD Garden was the loudest I have ever heard it when Nathan Horton scored what proved to be the game-winner in a 1-0 contest, and the tension, atmosphere, and energy was unmatched as the final minutes ticked down. The night was almost surreal. Horton wins it against Tampa Bay
Tonight’s game will probably be well-played, but it will have nowhere near the intensity of the previous meeting. And therein lies the biggest challenge facing the Bruins as the 2011-12 season begins: how to deal with the Stanley Cup hangover? Just how can a team that played so many important, intense, and dramatic games four months ago get up to play so many regular season games?
It will not be an easy road, but if any team can do it, it is the Bruins. Many questioned whether a team with so many players already signed to long-term deals could get inspired, and that was answered with a yes last June. Tim Thomas thrives under adversity, and going back-to-back provides him with yet another challenge as people question whether he can do it again. Tyler Seguin looks like he is ready to make the jump to another level, and Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci have proven they just love to play the game. My gut is that Nathan Horton will be better and more consistent this year as he nears a big contract year, and Zdeno Chara looks to be just as hungry as he was a year ago. Plus, it is hard to question the desire and intensity of guys like Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, Rich Peverley, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ferrence, and the rest of a team that proved a lot of doubters wrong last June.
- Interesting fact: Brad Marchand opened the scoring for the 2011-12 NHL season with his score at 9:42 of the first period on Thursday. Marchand had closed the scoring on the 2010-11 NHL season with an empty net goal in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver on June 15.
- Benpoit Pouliot got the silent treatment in pre-game introductions. Looks like he has something to prove to fans as well. This might be the lasts top for Pouliot if he cannot produce in Boston with the type of players surrounding him. Plus, he has a coach in Claude Julien who will give him chance after chance.
- It is the 400th career game for Chara, and the 300th for Krejci.
- The Bruins hold a 43-18-9 record all-time against Tampa.
- The Lightning is one of four NHL teams who have never swept a season series with the Bruins.
- The Lightning feature nine players on their roster tonight who played hockey at the collegiate level at a United States college or university: Teddy Purcell (University of Maine), Ryan Shannon (Boston College), Matt Gilroy (Boston University), Martin St. Louis (University of Vermont), Brett Clark (University of Maine), Ryan Malone (St. Cloud State), Adam Hall (Michigan State), Dwayne Roloson (UMass Lowell) and Dominic Moore (Harvard). This spring, the Lightning and St. Pete Times Forum will host the 2012 NCAA Frozen
- Steven Stamkos leads the NHL in goals over the past two years, scoring 96. Sidney Crosby is second with 83 and Alex Ovechkin third with 82.
- Despite being one of the smallest guys on the ice, Tampa’s Martin St.. Louis is also one of the toughest. He has played in 473 straight games, the fourth-longest active streak in the league.
Check out what the writers in Tampa have to say at Bolts by the Bay.
Topics: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Dwayne Roloson, Martin St. Louis, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara