The last time we saw the Lightning and Bruins meet up two weeks ago, the Bolts were busy smacking Tim Thomas and Marty Turco around to the tune of 6-1 while the B’s were in the middle of what would be a four-game losing streak.
When they meet tonight in Boston (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), the Bruins have turned things around winning four of their last six since then while the Lightning have fallen out of the playoff hunt. For Boston, getting right in time for the postseason is what it’s all about and for them, that means seeing injured players getting back.
Forward Rich Peverley returned against Anaheim and while he’s not a huge name, his importance up front is huge. With the likes of David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Tyler Seguin in need of that pick-me-up, Peverley’s veteran presence and abilities are needed for balance along their lines.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, was happy to throw a wrench in the Flyers’ plans last night and they’ll be looking to do the same to the Bruins yet again. With Steve Stamkos being a force of nature on the ice, breaking the team record for goals in a season last night, it’s the Bolts’ top line that will try to make life miserable for Boston.
While Dwayne Roloson has been red hot of late winning his last three starts, don’t be surprised if you see newcomer Sebastian Caron in goal tonight. Caron is recently back from playing in Germany and the former Penguins/Flyers netminder is looking for his first action of the year. Since Roloson got the call in beating Philly last night, Caron figures to get a hell of a first test against Boston.
It’s another night loaded with action as NBCSN will have two games oozing over with playoff implications, especially concerning what’s going on in the Western Conference. Getting a double dose to help prep for the playoffs is never a bad things.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
While the Lightning are virtually out of the playoffs (nine points back of Washington with eight games to play), the Flyers have all the reason in the world to keep winning themselves. The Flyers sit fifth in the East and while they’ve already locked down their spot in the postseason, they still have a shot at landing home ice in the first round. With the Penguins in fourth one point back of the Rangers, should the Flyers keep winning, perhaps they can catch up to whoever loses out on the Atlantic Division battle.
Working in their favor is Claude Giroux who, in spite of the attention both Evgeni Malkin and Steve Stamkos are getting for scoring tons of goals and generally being incredible, is right there in the points race with both of them. Giroux’s consistent play along with Ilya Bryzgalov looking like a superstar in goal the last couple weeks have helped Philly into the postseason. So long as the Flyers can keep Stamkos at bay tonight, they can continue their pursuit of the Pens and Rangers.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings (10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
For Vancouver, their spot in the postseason is secure having clinched the Northwest Division on Saturday and while they’ll shift their attention to chasing the Blues for first in the conference, the Kings have a lot more at stake themselves.
Los Angeles sits in eighth place in the West but, as always, in a precarious position. While they’re one point back of Dallas for the top spot in the Pacific and the third seed as well as Phoenix for seventh. They’re also one point ahead of San Jose and Colorado who are in hot pursuit of them to make the playoffs. Any slip-ups from now until the end of the season could be disastrous.
The key to staying on top of things for the Kings is Jonathan Quick. Quick has been the team’s MVP this season but having to deal with a Canucks attack that will be without Daniel Sedin, thanks to a discourteous elbow to the head from Duncan Keith, won’t be easy. L.A. will need to counter what Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler bring to the table by hoping to see Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown continue their red hot play and get a little extra from Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. That’s not asking too much now is it?
Funny how things change over time. The last time the Predators and Blackhawks met back in mid-February, it turned out to be the low point of the season for Chicago according to CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers. When they get together tonight at United Center (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), both teams are in a more familiar situation jockeying for playoff position.
Chicago comes into tonight’s game two points back of Nashville for fifth place in the West while the Predators are one point behind Detroit for fourth. To say that Chicago and Nashville could wind up dancing with each other in the first round in the playoffs is true. Both teams have seven games left, but the Blackhawks will have to do things tonight without Jonathan Toews (concussion) and Duncan Keith (suspension).
While Keith is sitting at home keeping himself in shape during his time off, Toews is getting closer to returning. After participating in his first practice in two weeks yesterday, things are looking up for the Blackhawks’ captain. Patrick Kane is making sure Chicago keeps winning by scoring seven goals over the last 12 games. The Blackhawks are hoping to make it six straight wins tonight.
Nashville, meanwhile, is in a slight funk. Although they dispatched of Winnipeg last night, the Predators have lost four of their last six games. The losses have prevented Nashville from capitalizing on Detroit’s struggles of late and they’ve been unable to leap frog them in the standings.
Oddly enough, the source of their recent struggles has been all-world goalie Pekka Rinne. Rinne’s woes against Edmonton and Pittsburgh may have been bothersome to fans, but not so much for coach Barry Trotz. Rinne rebounded nicely against the Jets stopping all but one shot in a 3-1 win. Meanwhile, new-old guy Alexander Radulov is showing that his belated arrival was worth waiting on as he’s got a goal and an assist in two games.
If tonight’s game is to be a true playoff preview, expect to see a no holds barred throwdown as both teams would love to get to fourth and earn home ice in the first round.