Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins Second Round Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins

With the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs complete, the second round will commence immediately. With the Boston Bruins winning their first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs they will move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. These two teams were sitting atop the Atlantic Division before the shutdown. It was to be expected that these teams would meet in the playoffs at some point. Today we will break down the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins matchup for the second round.

The Lightning were able to pick up a 3-2 victory in the round-robin game over the Bruins. The Bruins, however, have seemed to turn their play around since the round-robin beating a very strong opponent in the Hurricanes in five games. Let’s look at the strengths of the two teams for the second-round matchup.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins

Dominant Top Lines

When all are healthy, these two teams have some of the best top 6’s in the league. With the Bruins consisting of David PastrnakBrad MarchandPatrice Bergeron and Jake Debrusk they have the ability to score at any point throughout a game. Similarly, when all are healthy, the Lightning have players such as Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli, and Steven Stamkos. However, Steven Stamkos has yet to play in the playoffs. Pastrnak has been on and off for the Bruins, only playing in the first and last game of their series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

It seems like Pastrnak could be back now after playing in Game 5, but there have been no indications that Stamkos will be returning. If Stamkos remains out, the Lightning will need to rely on Point and Kucherov, similar to how they did in the first round. Should the “Perfection Line” for the Bruins be swinging at full force, the Lightning will need their entire team to be able to help defend it. Between the three players, the Bruins top line was able to generate 73.57 ixG and scored 107 goals.

The entire series could come down to who is fit to play, and which team can shut down the top lines. With such lethal offence on both sides, this could be a high scoring series.

Depth Players

The Lightning’s depth has had issues stepping up and helping out with goals in the first three games of the series against Columbus. In Games 4 and 5, however, they began to turn things around. The Lightning are paying their depth lots of money and gave up quality assets to acquire them at the deadline. They will need to continue that momentum to take home this series against the Bruins.

The Bruins depth has players like Charlie Coyle or a strong defensive player like Par Lindholm. Outside of that, the Bruins have Sean Kuraly, and youngster Jack Studnicka, but no one really of note. The Bruins strength lies with their top six, and they shouldn’t count on a whole lot of production from their depth. If the Lightning is able to shut down the top line with the Bruins, they could have a strict edge in the series.

The Lightning seem to take the edge with their depth, but if they continue to underperform, the edge they have could be rendered useless.

Defensive Pieces

The Bruins and the Lightning mirror each other in more ways than just their incredible top 6, however. They both seem to have matchups within the pieces on their bluelines. With the Bruins having Torey Krug as their main means of offence from the defence, the Lightning have Victor Hedman as their counter to that. Similarly, they both have strong pieces in Charlie McAvoy and Ryan McDonagh to assist on the blueline. These pieces will be key in giving one team the edge.

The defence will be playing a major role in these series as well. As previously stated, whoever can shut down the top line more effectively in this series should emerge victoriously. While the Lightning were a top-five defensive team in the regular according to their xGA/60, they are outclassed by the Bruins who claimed the top spot. Tampa was able to utilize its combination of elite defence and offence to win the series against the Blue Jackets. However, the Bruins should be able to score more than the Blue Jackets were. This could prove to be a more troublesome matchup for the Lightning.

Goaltending Matchup

The goaltending matchup in this series should be interesting. With Tuukka Rask leaving the bubble for personal reasons, the Bruins are in the hands of Jaroslav Halak. Thankfully, Halak is one of the best backups in the NHL, so they are in better shape than most teams would be after losing their starter. Halak has been incredible ever since joining the Bruins and should be a strong replacement for Rask.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had an up and down series in the first round. He struggled in games two, three and five while putting up a great performance in Games 1 and 4. If the Lightning are to win this series they will need Vasilevskiy to play some of his better hockey. Often a goalie that takes advantage of the strong defence in front of him, Vasilevskiy may need to steal some games in the second round.

This should be an eventful series that reflects the quality of play rather than team matchups. As both rosters strengths tend to mirror each other, it will come down to who is hot this series.

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