January 17, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Steve Downie (9) defends Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (21) during the second period at St. Pete Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning

January 17, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Steve Downie (9) defends Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (21) during the second period at St. Pete Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After the Boston Bruins’ 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, the team had four days off before a showdown with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night in Florida.

Along with the extended break in-between games, came the flu. Seven of Boston’s players missed practice on Tuesday with flu-like symptoms. Lane MacDermid was called up to practice on Tuesday as a precaution just incase he may have to fill in. Also back with the team was Milan Lucic who left the team and returned to Boston for “personal reasons” and missed Sunday’s game in Winnipeg. Lucic said, “Good thing is everyone’s home and healthy now and that’s basically it. It was a long last couple days, flying to Winnipeg and flying all the way back as soon as I got there. But, like I said, everyone’s happy and healthy and that’s the main thing.” His family is healthy and so is he so you can bet that Lucic is full of energy and ready to get back on the ice with his teammates.

Even with all the absences that the Bruins had on Tuesday, everyone was back on the ice for practice on Wednesday before they took off for Florida. After practice on Wednesday Coach Claude Julien said, “Let’s knock on wood here but the guys that were missing from practice yesterday are all feeling much better.” Despite the flu-like symptoms, the Bruins seem like they will have a full lineup for Thursday’s game against the Lightning.

This game will be the first matchup of the two teams this season. The Bruins and the Lightning were scheduled to play earlier in the month but the game was postponed due to the inclement weather. The Lightning (8-6-1) are tied for first in the Southeast division and the Bruins (9-2-2) are in second in the Northeast division. The Bruins will have to be on their best defensive game because Tampa has many offensive weapons that can put the puck in the back of the net. After winning two straight games (with ten total goals scored), the offensive players for Tampa definitely have a lot of confidence right now. Whoever is in goal for the Bruins will have to bring his “A” game. This game will definitely have a sense of urgency as both teams try to get to first place in their respective divisions.

Tags: Boston Bruins Claude Julien Feature Tampa Bay Lightning

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