Boston Bruins Big Test Against Tampa Bay Lightning


Jan 8, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) congratulates left wing Milan Lucic (17) on scoring a goal during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

As the days of summer came to a close, I remember taking a look at who I envisioned being the Boston Bruins biggest competition in the Atlantic Division. Montreal may have been the popular choice given what transpired in the playoffs a few months prior, but all one had to do was look at what the Tampa Bay Lightning organization had accomplished in the offseason.

The fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning are sitting at the top of the Atlantic Division as we move past the halfway mark of the season is a testament to the mission Vice President and GM Steve Yzerman set out to accomplish last summer in adding depth to what was a top heavy roster.

Tampa Bay has steadily improved their team since they last met the Bruins in a memorable seven game set back in 2011. It should be no surprise having seen Yzerman take a page out of the Bruins book and focus on building the bottom half of the roster to achieve stability and balance.

On the other hand, the Bruins have seen a reversal in roles as they are the team struggling to achieve depth and balance while dealing with financial instability, injuries, and mediocre play from some of their top flight players. However, in the last week we have seen the Bruins string together their longest winning streak since Thanksgiving.

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The much often criticized Milan Lucic is playing one of his best stretches of hockey in recent memory posting two goals and two assists in the last three games. There has also been the emergence of David Pastrnak as he has appeared to relish in the role of playing alongside fellow countryman David Krejci as made evident by his two goal performance against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking of the Flyers, they may have done the Bruins an unintentional favor Monday night by putting a hurting on the Lightning both mentally and physically. The Lightning were routed 7-3 and making even matters worse was losing their top scorer in Tyler Johnson and top scoring defenseman in Victor Hedman. However, it’s situations like this where the depth achieved last offseason should keep the Lightning afloat.

The Eastern Conference is log jammed with eight points separating the top team in conference(Tampa Bay) and the eighth place team(Boston). In my opinion, this is a game the Bruins need and should be able to win. The Bruins have had an incredible run of success against the Lightning having won eight consecutive match ups and goalie Ben Bishop has struggled mightily.

The Bruins are 8-5-3 against the Atlantic Division this season and this will be their first matchup against the Conference and Division leading Lightning. With the Bruins digging themselves into a hole at the halfway mark of the season; points will be at a premium in these games.