Bruins look to get aggressive to tie up series with Lightning

Tonight’s Game 2 between Tampa Bay and Boston will help set the tone for the rest of the series. Either we’ll see the Bruins bounce back after a tough Game 1 that saw them lose 5-2 thanks to three early goals from the Lightning en route to a relatively easy win or the Lightning will continue to find ways to upset the play of Boston and head home with a 2-0 series lead.

Tampa Bay @ Boston – 8 p.m. ET (Versus)Tampa Bay leads series 1-0

While the Bruins are getting less-than stellar play from defenseman Tomas Kaberle, one of their biggest issues in Game 1 was how they handled the intense attacking pressure brought forth by the Lightning. The Lightning used the sort of forecheck that neither the Bruins nor anyone else had seen much of in the playoffs from them. The Bruins struggled with the pressure and made many bad decisions leading to Lightning goals. One way that Boston can upset Tampa’s game plan is to get physical and finish their checks all over the ice.

Boston stepping up the physical game should help keep Tampa Bay on edge and while you certainly won’t catch the Lightning dropping the gloves with the Bruins, even if the plays come late in the game, it would be enough to make them feel uncomfortable on the ice. That alone could afford Boston the opportunities they’re looking for to try and beat Dwayne Roloson.

What will be worth seeing tonight is just how much ice time and potential power play time we see for Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin. Seguin had a goal and an assist in Game 1 while getting less than ten minutes of ice time. Seguin is in the lineup thanks to Patrice Bergeron’s concussion he suffered in Game 4 against Philadelphia. While Bergeron has skated the last two days with the team leaving Claude Julien to be a bit mysterious about whether or not he’ll play tonight, it’s suspected that Bergeron will be out of action again.

Tampa Bay meanwhile is all systems go with the same lineup they had in Game 1. While they’re still without Pavel Kubina in the meantime with a head injury, Eric Brewer has been all that and then some for the Lightning along the blue line. Brewer leads the playoffs in blocked shots and he’s got a goal and five assists so far as well. If the Lightning go on to the Stanley Cup finals, Brewer’s contributions will be a major part of that as he’s averaging 26:04 of ice time per game.

For now, Tampa Bay will be happy with finding ways to again frustrate the Bruins and head back home with a 2-0 lead. If they can do that and figure out a way to get Steve Stamkos back on the scoresheet, they’ll be feeling really good about themselves and their chances in this series. Don’t expect Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas to take too kindly to those efforts though.

Jaromir Jagr leaves game with lower body injury

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Calgary Flames forward Jaromir Jagr played just four shifts on Saturday night before exiting their game against the Minnesota Wild in the first period.

The Flames later announced that Jagr would not return with what the team is calling a lower body injury.

They had no other update.

After going through the entire summer unsigned as a free agent, Jagr finally landed a one-year deal with the Flames just before the start of the season. So far he has appeared in five games for the team recording a pair of assists.

He recorded 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) while playing in all 82 games for the Florida Panthers a year ago.

Even though he appeared in every game a year ago he still showed some signs of finally starting to slow down, and you have to assume that there is going to be some sort of an injury concern for a player that is turning 46 years old in February.

Senators top Maple Leafs but lose Bobby Ryan for a month

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The Ottawa Senators’ 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night came with a price.

After the game coach Guy Boucher confirmed that veteran forward Bobby Ryan broke his right index finger during the game and is expected to miss at least the next month.

Ryan has yet to score a goal for the Senators in eight games this season but has recorded five assists.

He fought through an injury plagued season in 2016-17 that ended with one of the worst individual stat lines of his career. He was able to salvage the season however with a tremendous postseason performance that saw him finish with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 19 games as the Senators went all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals where they would lose in double overtime.

The Senators are off to a great start this season earning at least a point in seven of their first eight games (4-1-3).

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Penguins seem to have a backup goalie problem

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The Penguins worked to address one area of concern on Saturday when they acquired forward Riley Sheahan from the Detroit Red Wings.

Now they need to start working on another major area of concern — their backup goalie.

The Penguins had to know Antti Niemi was never going to step into Pittsburgh and replace what Marc-Andre Fleury gave them on the ice, but they had to be expecting a little more than what they have received thus far.

After giving up seven goals in the Penguins’ 7-1 loss in Tampa Bay on Saturday night, Niemi has now given up 16 goals in 128 minutes of hockey this season. His save percentage is a brutal .797.

In games Niemi starts the Penguins are 0-3 and have been outscored 22-6, losing games by margins of 10-1 and 7-1.

In the games he hasn’t started they are 5-0-1 and have outscored their opponents 24-17.

It would be unfair to put all of the blame on Niemi, because even with regular starter Matt Murray in net they have also had stretches where they have struggled defensively and not quite played at the level they showed the past two seasons.

Niemi has also made all of his starts in the second half of back-to-back situations against teams that were not only rested the night before, but also teams that should be among the best in the league this season (the Chicago Blackhawks, two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning).

But none of that can excuse the way Niemi himself has played thus far, either. At some point you  need your goalie to make a save no matter who your team is playing or what is happening around him. His rebound control has been shaky, he looks uncomfortable when he is making saves and it is not like he is coming off of a great performance a year ago. In 42 appearances with the Dallas Stars he finished with an .892 save percentage, one of the worst marks in the league, and was at .905 the year before. He is 34 years old and has not performed at a better than league average level (or even at a league average level) in several years.

It has to be an area of concern for the Penguins because if Murray has a flaw early in his young career it is that he has missed some time due to injury. In the past they have had Fleury there to step in. They do not have that luxury now.

Niemi is only signed for one year at $700,000 so it is not like they have a huge investment in him.

If they decide to go in another direction already (they will probably give Niemi a little bit of a longer leash, I am sure) they have Tristan Jarry in the American Hockey League, or perhaps explore a trade if they are uncomfortable with such a young duo and inexperienced backup behind Murray.

Either way, it is really difficult to see them sticking around with this sort of performance from their backup for much longer.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals

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The Washington Capitals, fresh off of a 4-3 overtime win on Friday night thanks to Alex Ovechkin‘s NHL record 20th overtime goal, return home on Saturday night to host the Florida Panthers.

After winning their first two games of the season the Capitals have stumbled a little bit over the past couple of weeks winning just two of their past six games. They are looking to win consecutive games for the first time since those back-to-back wins to open the season.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night that cost them goaltender Roberto Luongo who was placed on injured reserve on Saturday afternoon.

You can catch all of the action on NBCSN. Game time is 7:30 p.m. ET.

Click here to watch live.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.