|Bruins look to pick up third straight win as they face Steven Stamkos’ Lightning||12.28.10 at 5:14 am ET|
The Bruins, fresh off of jumping into first place in the Northeast division with their 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers on Monday, will take on the Lightning, who lead the Southeast division, on Tuesday night. It’s the second of five straight road games for the Bruins, and the second of three games in four days.
The last time the Bruins faced the Lightning, they won in blowout fashion, crushing Tampa Bay, 8-1, at TD Garden on Dec. 2. The two teams have split the season series thus far, as the Lightning grabbed a 3-1 win at St. Pete Times Forum on Nov. 22.
The Lightning have won six of their last seven games, while the Bruins are winners of their last two.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Lightning are 10-2-2 in Tampa and are a perfect 4-0-0 in home games this month.
- The Bruins are 10-5-1 on the road this season. Their shootout win on Monday was just their second road victory of the month, the first of which came on Dec. 1 in Philadelphia.
- Steven Stamkos is back on track following his statistical hiccup that lasted from late November into the beginning of the month. He has scored seven goals in his last eight games and has 28 on the season.
- Milan Lucic‘s scoreless streak has now reached four games and he has one point in the last six contests. Lucic had two points when the B’s faced the Lightning on Dec. 2.
- David Krejci and Michael Ryder starred in that 8-1 Bruins victory over the Lightning earlier this month with three points apiece. Both Krejci and Ryder had a pair of points in Monday’s win over the Panthers, and with their line with Blake Wheeler clicking, they’re certainly a couple of players worth keeping an eye on.
- After having three goals entering last Thursday’s game vs. the Rangers, Vincent Lecavalier has doubled that in his last two games. He has a pair of goals in Sunday night’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Thrashers.
- After Monday, it’s now been five straight games without a start for Rask. If Thomas starts against the the Thrashers on Thursday, Rask will have gone more than two weeks without seeing any playing time. Thomas has been stellar in his last two starts, so the Bruins face some serious difficulty in trying to get Rask game experience to keep him sharp.
STORLYLINES GOING IN
- The Lucic – Savard – Horton line has not produced a goal in either of the two game s since it came into being in last week’s line shuffle. In fact, of the four non-special-teams goals the team has scored in the last two contests, half have come from Krejci, with Shawn Thornton scoring the other two.
- Will this one go to overtime, too? Judging by the opponent, it wouldn’t be surprising. The Lightning’s last three games have been decided either in overtime or a shootout. They’re 2-0-1 in that stretch.
|Tyler Seguin still working to ‘figure this league out’||12.18.10 at 1:22 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin knows that he’s been able to produce in the face of adversity. He’s done it since he’s been on the radar of hockey fans, but it might be a bit different at this level. That’s why he doesn’t want himself — or anyone else — to assume he’ll embark on a career-defining hot streak after being a healthy scratch earlier this week. Observe the following exchange.
WEEI.com: Obviously in juniors after that coaching change, and then when you didn’t make the World Juniors team last year, these things have seemed to spark a –
Seguin: Don’t. Don’t jinx it. Don’t keep going.
[A bit of background information: Seguin, who was taken ninth overall by the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL draft in 2008, wasn't producing like a top-10 pick out of the gate. He had just one goal in his first 17 games, and after coach Greg Stefan left to take a scouting gig with the Carolina Hurricanes, Seguin finished the season with 21 goals despite his slow start. This came after Mike Vellucci, who took over as coach, sat the then-16-year-old down and told him he expected him to produce regardless of age.
Last season, Seguin, the ninth-ranked prospect in the NHL draft, didn't make the World Junior Championship team and used it as motivation as he went on to lead the OHL with 48 goals and take over as the top-ranked prospect.]
Fast forward to mid-December.
Whether he liked it or not, Seguin was forced to take in Wednesday’s game against the Sabres from the press box, observing the pace of a game he’s still learning at a professional level. He sat alongside Doug Jarvis as the Bruins fell to the Sabres, 3-2.
“I got to sit up top and look at it from a different perspective, and that’s how the coach and GM wanted me to spend the game,” Seguin, seemingly understanding of the decision, said.
The 18-year-old followed the scratch with an encouraging showing in Montreal, making a nice play to get the puck to Andrew Ference to set up Marc Savard‘s first goal of the season. Seguin has just three points in his last 10 games, so he’ll look to build on whatever forward steps he can take after being kept out of the lineup.
“I always try to turn a negative into a positive,” Seguin said. “All it is is adversity. You’ll face it a million times in your hockey career, so it was just another experience of it. I wanted to come out with a strong game in Montreal, and I think I did that. I just want to stay consistent.”
As the second overall pick still gets his bearings and finds different ways to adjust to the NHL, top pick Taylor Hall has seemed to hit his stride, scoring 10 goals thus far. Still, Seguin knows that how a player performs in the early going of his rookie year does not exactly set the pace for one’s career production.
One of the players to whom he most often compared in Steven Stamkos (flip a coin on the frequency of comparisons of Seguin to Stamkos or Steve Yzerman) was also a healthy scratch at times as a rookie. Seguin, who has five goals thus far, kiddingly noted that Stamkos had four before Christmas prior to lighting it up with 20 goals after the holiday. In fact, Stamkos — the same guy who has 24 goals this season — only had three before Dec. 25. Regardless of the solace he may take in knowing he isn’t the first to deal with such adjustment to the NHL, Seguin isn’t trying to follow anyone’s path or try to be somebody he’s not.
“I just want to be Tyler right now,” Seguin said. “I want to find my own identity and figure this league out.”
|Tyler Seguin hopes to continue to following Steven Stamkos’ path||12.02.10 at 3:01 pm ET|
If there’s anybody a young scorer would want to be compared to this season, it’s Steven Stamkos. The Lightning center already has 21 goals this season and is on pace for 69. It’s remarkable production considering Stamkos is just 20 years of age.
In the case of Tyler Seguin, the comparisons he has received to Stamkos are undoubtedly cases of high praise, but the measurables seem to warrant them.
Both players were both highly coveted right-handed centers in their respective drafts, as Stamkos went first overall in 2008 and Seguin was taken second overall in 2010. They both had dominant OHL careers as well, with Stamkos potting 58 goals in 2007-08 with the Sarnia Sting, and Seguin winning the Red Tilson award for the OHL’s most outstanding player with 48 goals last year for the Plymouth Whalers. They’ve also got similar body types (Seguin is 6-foot-1, 186 pounds while Stamkos is 6-foot-0, 176 pounds). Finally, Stamkos’ hometown of Markham, Ontario is a 45-minute drive from Seguin’s native Brampton.
Stamkos has established himself as one of the league’s most explosive players at a very young age, and Seguin — the same guy who doesn’t like to “over-respect” his opponents before a game — would love if his billing as the next Stamkos proves to be true.
“I try to [play like Stamkos],” Seguin said Thursday. “He’s definitely doing really good right now.”
Seguin has five goals this season through 23 games. He is on pace for 18 goals, which would be less than Stamkos’ 23 as a rookie, but Seguin seems to be right where the Tampa Bay star was two years ago. Through 23 games, Stamkos actually had just three goals on the season. He didn’t really kick things into high gear until February, and he hasn’t stopped scoring since.
“He adapted to the league [and] I think it took him probably half a season in his rookie year,” Seguin said of Stamkos. “I’ll probably be around there hopefully and just keep on going.”
The two players met over the summer at the increasingly legendary Atlantic City Bauer campaign. It was there that Seguin also met and got to know Phil Kessel.
|Steven Stamkos, Lightning beat Bruins in Tampa||11.22.10 at 9:58 pm ET|
The Bruins became the most recent team to fall victim to Steven Stamkos and the Lightning as they fell to Tampa Bay, 3-1, on Monday night.
Michael Ryder scored the lone Bruins’ goal at 10:38 of the third, with Tampa Bay getting goals from Dana Tyrell, Stamkos, and Teddy Purcell in the second period.
Though the notable lineup news for the B’s entering the game was Tyler Seguin‘s promotion to the second line, it was the first line that got attention for all the wrong reasons. Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton failed to registered just one shot on Lightning goaltender Mike Smith, who made26 saves to improve to 7-3-0 on the season.
Tuukka Rask relived the season opener once again, as the Bruins stalled in front of him for two periods before attempting a comeback that didn’t prove to be good enough. Rask make 33 saves on 36 shots. With the loss, Rask is now 1-5-1 on the season despite entering the game second third in the league in save percentage.
From Tampa the Bruins will travel to Florida, where they will face the Panthers on Wednesday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The top line went wrong for the Bruins. Claude Julien doesn’t like to identify his lines in the first, second, third, fourth manner, and on Monday, he wouldn’t be able to if he wanted to.
The lack of shooting this season on Nathan Horton’s part has been well-documented, but on Monday it was his entirely line that failed to get the puck on net. The line got just one shot on goal, which Krejci contributed late in the third period.
- Nothing derails a comeback attempt like a penalty in the third period. After failing to capitalize on a hooking penalty assessed to Steve Downie at 1:28, the B’s were caught with too many men on the ice at 4:20, rendering them down a man and postponing a shot at a comeback for a couple of minutes. Luckily for the Bruins, the Lightning returned the favor shortly after with a too-many-men call of their own.
- Momentum, or lack thereof, was once again the story of the first two periods. No gloves were dropped after either of Tampa Bay’s three goals in the second period, and it’s something that could have aided the Bruins.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Seguin responded well to being moved to the second line, shooting more (four shots on goal) and drawing a key hooking penalty on Downie early on in the third.
- Patrice Bergeron had a team-high five shots on goal, which tied his high on the season. Bergeron also had five shots against the Capitals on Oct. 21.
- Ryder and Jordan Caron really battled to set up the Blake Wheeler shot that led to Ryder’s goal. The two had to outmuscle Lighting skaters to bring the puck up and get it to Wheeler in the offensive zone, with Ryder tipping it past Smith.
|Lightning lead Bruins after two||at 9:04 pm ET|
The Bruins are down, 3-0, after two periods, and yes, Steven Stamkos has something to do with it.
Randy Jones threw a shot on net from the point, and with Adam Hall and Dana Tyrell in front, Andrew Ference tended to Hall. This left Tyrell to tip it up and past Rask, who was likely still trying to track the puck at 3:26.
It wasn’t shortly after that the B’s worst fear was realized. Game-planning against the Lightning probably starts with stopping Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, but the two got on the score sheet when St. Louis picked up his 19th assist of the season on Stamkos’ 20th goal at 5:15. Teddy Purcell added on at 11:36, grabbing a rebound off the boards and tipping it in.
Through two periods, the Lightning are outshooting the B’s, 28-15. Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins with three shots on goal.
|Bruins, Lightning scoreless after first period||at 8:13 pm ET|
The Bruins spent much of the first period trying to keep up with the tempo of the Lightning, but after one the two teams are scoreless.
Tuukka Rask has faced 11 shots, saving them all. The B’s limited Steven Stamkos to one shot on Rask, though Martin St. Louis got three on the netminder.
The Bruins have just seven shots on Mike Smith. Tyler Seguin and Shawn Thornton lead the B’s with two. Thornton had the game’s only penalty thus far when he got the gate for interference at 17:55 of the period.
|Tuukka Rask expected to start for Bruins in first matchup of Tyler Seguin and Steven Stamkos||at 2:39 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice on Monday, indicating he’ll be between the pipes when the Bruins take on Mike Smith and the Lightning in Tampa Bay. Guy Boucher‘s club is currently riding a three-game win streak.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The B’s are 7-1-0 on the road, with their lone loss coming on Nov. 5 in Washington. They have 10 goals in their last two road games, seven of which came in their come-from-behind victory over the Penguins on Nov. 10.
- The Lightning are 4-2-1 at home, and 2-2-1 in their last five home games.
- Michael Ryder saw a dip in his playing time on Saturday. Ryder entered the contest averaging 14:01 a night, but got just 9:50 of ice time. It was the first time all season that Ryder played less than 12 minutes, let alone 10.
- Between the two starting goalies tonight, just one goal has been allowed in their last starts. Rask blanked the Panthers in Boston while Smith allowed one goal on 30 shots against the Sabers in Buffalo.
- Steven Stamkos is out of his mind. He’s got 19 goals this season, with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Semin a distant five goals behind him for the lead league.
Stamkos had 23 goals as a rookie, and given all the parallels between he and Tyler Seguin, this scribe is holding firm on the projection that Seguin finishes the season in that ballpark. Seguin is on pace for 18.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- After one game of having Seguin as a third line winger, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports that Seguin will swap spots with Jordan Caron and jump up to the second line. The initial reaction is that this is a great move for multiple reasons. For starters, it returns Seguin to the generation-spanning line that looked so intriguing in the preseason and puts the young scorer on a line with two of the top-three guys on the team in assists. Mark Recchi leads the B’s will 11, while Patrice Bergeron is tied for second with Nathan Horton (10).
This move will also be good for the team in that it gets a slumping Caron off the second line. He hasn’t scored in 10 games, picking up just two assists over that period.
Expect the lines to look like this:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Seguin – Bergeron – Recchi
Caron – Wheeler – Ryder
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton
- It should be interesting to see how Rask, who is tied for third in the league with a .939 save percentage, fares against an offense as productive as Tampa Bay’s. Rask had a 41-save shutout the last time out against the Panthers, but the Tampa Bay is averaging 3.1 goals per game (5th in the NHL) and have totaled 14 goals in their three-game winning streak.
- Special teams could be key in this game, as it matches the third-best power play in the league (Tampa Bay scores on 24.4 of its power plays) against the Bruins’s 89.9 penalty kill percentage, which is second in the league.
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