It’s a do-or-die Game 6 for Tampa Bay at home against Boston. Tampa Bay can stave off elimination for a day and force a Game 7 on Friday night with a win tonight over the Bruins but the Bruins will be looking to put an end to things early and clinch their first spot in the Stanley Cup finals since 1990.
Boston @ Tampa Bay – 8 p.m. ET (Versus) – Boston leads series 3-2
While the Bruins lineup will hold strong and play out the same way as it has the last few games, things in Tampa Bay are getting shuffled up a bit from Game 5. Dwayne Roloson will once again be back in goal to start for the Lightning after getting a day off in Game 5. In Game 5, Mike Smith played well in spite of losing giving up a pair of goals in a 3-1 Bruins win.
Some thought it might be the start of a goalie controversy but coach Guy Boucher put that talk to a stop quickly saying Roloson would get the start in Game 6 after “getting a rest” in Game 5. A curious decision nonetheless, but if Roloson slams the door shut tonight and helps Tampa Bay force a Game 7, the adulation for Boucher will grow stronger.
The other intrigue for Tampa Bay in their lineup is whether or not Sean Bergenheim will play tonight. Bergenheim left Game 5 with an injury and did not return and Boucher says it will be a game time decision whether or not he plays. If Bergenheim sits, it’ll be either forward Dana Tyrell or defenseman Randy Jones playing in his spot.
One matter to keep an eye on tonight is how the penalties shake out as referee Eric Furlatt gets to call tonight’s game and he hasn’t exactly been very Lightning-friendly through the playoffs calling 24 penalties against them and only nine against Tampa’s opponents. Guy Boucher says he’s “very aware” of the discrepancy and broke out some of his own gamesmanship this afternoon when asked about it.
For Boston, the key for them is to jump out on the Lightning early and get a goal to both put the Lightning back on their heels and to quiet down the crowd. Boston’s been great when grabbing leads early (Game 4 aside) and doing so again tonight would test the Lightning’s willingness to snap out of it and fight back yet again. The Lightning aren’t ones to show much quit but it demands that the Bruins play hard and stay aggressive for all 60 minutes. If they do that and get great play out of Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas yet again, they could be shaking hands at the end of tonight’s game.
For more analysis on tonight’s game, check out what Keith Jones and Mike Milbury had to say about things earlier today.