The Boston Bruins (37-19-7) return home from their epic road trip to welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning in front of the fan friendlies at the TD Garden.
The Boston Bruins have been the consummate road
warriors this season and sent a message to the rest of the league, with a 6-0
road trip north of the border, that your home ice advantage is theirs too. Not since the days of the Big Bad Bruins,
circa 1971-1972, have the Bruins had a 6-0 road trip. Coincidentally, that is the last time the
Stanley Cup came to Boston.
Perhaps the best
thing the Bruins fans could do is show up in Lightning jerseys and boo every
time Boston scores a goal. The Bruins
are 15-12-3 at home compared to 22-7-4 on the road, and last time they skated
on Garden ice they suffered through one of their most uninspired performances
of the season in a 4-3 loss to the marginal Toronto Maple Leafs.
That’s when coach Claude Julien realized his
36 year old netminder was getting overworked and flat out worn down. So, he put his faith in back-up Tuukka Rask
and his confidence has been rewarded.
Rask has gotten into a groove with consecutive starts and when Tim Thomas
did return he looked sharp and refreshed in the Bruins most impressive win of
the season, downing the league leading Vancouver Canucks 3-1 in their own
division leaders, the Tampa Bay Lightning, sport an identical record to the
Boston Bruins, 37-19-7 and have tuned into the good vibrations at home (21-7-4)
but tuned out when on the road (16-12-3).
Tampa’s Steve Stamkos, a 21 year old wunderkind, is the top gun in the
NHL collecting 41 goals through 63 games.
Though Stamkos has had his share of success against the Bruins, tallying
8 points in his last five games against Boston, he has gone cold recently with
only one goal over his last eight games.
The Lightning dropped a 2-1 decision to the Devils last night in a game that NHL odds makers had expected them to loose, but lacked the offensive power to reach the total of 5 goals. They hope
to rebound in Boston as they wrap up their three game northeast road trip.
night’s face off at the Garden will feel more like a playoff game and less like
just another regular season game late in the season. Both division leaders are knotted with 81
points and hoping to secure at least a 2nd seed in the Eastern
Conference with a very real possibility of catching the number one seeded Philadelphia Flyers.
The Bruins have won two of three
against the Tampa Bay Lightning this season and the last time these teams tangled in Boston,
the Bruins left the paying customers satisfied with a dominating 8-1
victory. Their last tango was in Tampa
where the Bruins again managed a win only this time it was a hotly contested
4-3 decision and far from the lopsided victory they delivered in Boston.
Lightning were playing and losing last night, the Bruins were resting their
road weary bones. The last game of their
historic road trip highlighted a very tired team as they managed to scrape by
the lowly Senators with a 1-0 win, courtesy of Nathan Horton and a sensational
33 save shutout performance by Tuukka Rask.
The new cast of Bruins led by All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle should
energize the new look Bruins and though their record has been unspectacular in
Boston this season, even road warriors like to come home every now and
again. NHL bettors should back the Bruins to bask in
what will surely be a rousing ovation by the home crowd and deliver yet another
victory over the stumbling Tampa Bay Lightning.