Game two of the Eastern Conference semi-final between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Lightning goes tonight (7PM EST) in the NHL bubble in Toronto. Game 1 was a beauty of a game for the Bruins that ended up a little tighter than it needed to be thanks to two point shot deflections off Bruins players that sneaked by Halak (both via Victor Hedman…both off of Charlie McAvoy body parts). Here is a look at what to expect from game 2.
The Tampa Bay Lightning WILL ramp up the physical play: Game 1 was a decent physical affair, but not the all out war we might expect from two teams with history, some bad blood, and everything on the line. That is often typical of game 1’s. Tampa tried to out skill and outmatch (rather than out man) Boston and they lost at that game. This is a Lightning “home game” so they need to be better with last change and their match ups. Look for a heavy dose of hitting and after the whistle shenanigans as this series ramps up in intensity.
Don’t look for any changes today in the Bruins lineup…but they will be coming: The lineups have not been announced yet and morning skate is not likely to give much more of an indication. I don’t think Coach Bruce Cassidy will make any changes to his game one lineup. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and the Bruins looked really good on Sunday. They are an outstanding team at protecting a lead, so how things roll will no doubt be different should Tampa score 1st. Less 4th line minutes and more 2nd line could be in order. Naturally Halak will be between the pipes, and almost certainly again tomorrow.
Bruins need to make a better effort on shots coming from the point: Not that there was a whole lot they did wrong Sunday. Both Hedman’s goals pinballed into the net off McAvoy. It is worth noting, however, that the Bruins also let in the majority of goals in the Hurricane series from point shots. The issue seems to be the forwards get caught puck chasing in their own zone and they end up with 3 forwards on the same side. This leaves the point man open, and while they are very good at recovering there is often a lot of moving parts in front of the goalie as they scramble to get back into position. Thus either a) the goalie will have trouble seeing the puck with bodies in front of him b) the puck will find a skate or a leg to run into. Halak is a very good goalie and allowing him to see these long range shots should not be an issue.
OUTCOME: The Lightning will need to be careful just how physical they get, as this Bruins power play looked dominate in game 1 and they can ill afford to give up stupid penalties. The Bruins on the other side need to play their game, stay composed and bite back only when needed. They are in the drivers seat in this series and it is the Tampa who need to make adjustments.
I look for Boston’s first line to continue to dominate in this one and do enough 5 on 5 and the power play to give Boston another 3-2 win in a feisty affair.
Enjoy the game.
LETS GO BRUINS!