I hope you’ve had time to recover from that whirlwind of a series and absolutely chaotic Game 7. It should never have gone that far but the Bruins escaped largely unscathed.
Ahead tonight is a daunting challenge for the Boston Bruins. A confident Tampa Bay Lightning outfit that comfortably set aside the resurgent New Jersey Devils in round one. While the Leafs possessed some extremely talented players, the Tampa Bay lightning is a huge step up in terms of all-round quality.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is a Vezina finalist for a reason. Forget the guys in front of him for a moment, the twenty-three-year-old Russian could make this a 2-0 series in Tampa in the blink of an eye. Just take a look at what a confident Frederik Andersen achieved against the Bruins. Boasting a .920SV% in the regular season, Vasy has upped his game to a .941 SV% over the five games against The Devils. In comparison Tuukka Rask has a .899 SV% over the seven games to date.
Thunder and Lightning
Nikita Kucherov has certainly been the Lightning for his team and the thunder is quite some way back. Kuch leads Tampa scoring with 10 points and you have to scroll quite far down to see Steven Stamkos with six points. Kucherov is fifth in playoff scoring but bear in mind that he’s played two games less than those above him (Guentzel, Crosby, Pastrnak and Ovechkin). Easily one of the top-five players in the league, keeping him quiet tonight will be an incredibly tough task for a Bruins D-Core that struggled in recent games.
In reply to the threat of Kucherov and Stamkos, Pastrnak needs to keep firing on all cylinders. Electric in the series and weirdly could and probably should have had about five more points to his tally.
Pastrnak can be the X-Factor that rocks Andrei Vasilevskiy off his game early in this series. The best line in the NHL with elite talent bursting at the edges and a defensive-minded centre like Bergeron will challenge Tampa.
As optimistic as I want to be, I simply cannot see the Bruins picking up a win tonight. Amalie Arena will be rocking and the Bruins are coming off the back of a highly-fought series. Conversely Tampa Bay barely broke sweat in all honesty. Obviously you could argue that the Lightning might have the cliched complacency of having too much time off. Honestly, I cannot see that being the case as they are well and truly dialled in at this time of year.
6-4 Tampa Bay Lightning.